The No. 1 North Carolina women's soccer team (14-3, 7-2 ACC) blanked Miami (5-7-3, 2-6-1 ACC), 4-0 in Coral Gables, Fla. on Sunday.
After several minutes of little action, redshirt first-year Ally Sentnor kicked off scoring with a bang in the 10th minute. The forward wove through the Hurricanes defense and found a hole from just outside the 18-yard box, sending a rocket off her left foot and into the top left corner of the goal.
UNC smothered Miami with a high press, dominating possession by wearing down the outmatched Hurricanes midfield. Miami midfielder Lauren Meeks took the Hurricane's only shot of the first half in the 23rd minute.
Ten minutes later, the Tar Heels doubled their lead off a penalty kick. Miami defender Annie Blair was called for an illegal slide tackle inside the penalty box, and UNC senior defender Tori Hansen capitalized on the pen, placing the ball into the lower left corner.
North Carolina had two corner kicks in the final minutes of the half, but was unable to score off the set pieces and went into the break up, 2-0.
Junior forward Avery Patterson scored the team's third goal in the 54th minute, tracking down a well-placed cross by Isabel Cox and tapping the ball off her right foot into the bottom left corner of the net.
Soon after, UNC head coach Anson Dorrance plugged in the second unit. Graduate forward Rachel Jones scored the team's fourth goal in the 71st minute to bring the final score to 4-0.
Who stood out?
Hansen lengthened her scoring streak to three games, all three goals coming from penalty kicks. As the leader of the backline, she was also instrumental in holding the Hurricanes to just two shots on the game.
Sentnor also scored in her second-straight contest. The budding star forward had struggled with accuracy for a stretch in the middle of the season, but got on the board early for the Tar Heels to set them on a path to victory.
When was it decided?
UNC controlled the game from the jump, but the team had lost several games this season after holding a halftime lead. Patterson's goal in the 54th minute effectively put the game away for the Tar Heels, and Jones' goal in the 71st minute was just extra insurance for an already comfortable lead.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels' victory over No. 4 Florida State put UNC atop the ACC rankings. This win kept them at that top spot, which will grant them a first-round bye in the conference tournament that starts on Oct. 30.
Now on a five-game winning streak, the Tar Heels just need to beat Louisville in their season finale to clinch its fourth regular season championship in five seasons. The Cardinals, who are 3-6 in conference play, will be big underdogs entering that matchup.
When do they play next?
UNC will play its final game of the season at Louisville on Thursday. The game will air on ACC Network at 6 p.m.
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