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Wednesday December 7th

Preview: UNC women's soccer hunts for top seed in ACC Tournament against Louisville

UNC junior midfielder Avery Patterson (15) waits for a cross during the women's soccer game against NC State on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, at Dorrance Field. UNC beat NC State 2-0.
Buy Photos UNC junior midfielder Avery Patterson (15) waits for a cross during the women's soccer game against NC State on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, at Dorrance Field. UNC beat NC State 2-0.

Coming off a 4-0 shutout of the Miami Hurricanes, the North Carolina women’s soccer team looks to extend its five-game winning streak — this time on the road against the Louisville Cardinals on Thursday.

Like Miami, Louisville fell victim to a 4-0 shutout at the hands of Duke last weekend. They struggled in every aspect of the game, but inefficient offense proved to be the deciding factor as the team managed only three shots the entire game.

The final game of the regular season is a favorable matchup for the No. 2 Tar Heels, as the Cardinals 6-7-2 record pales in comparison to the latter’s 14-3 showing. UNC has also outscored Louisville 42-13 on the season.

The Cardinals have already been eliminated from postseason play, but they will have a chance to spoil UNC's hopes of clinching the No. 1 seed in next week's ACC Tournament.

Here are three keys to a victory against Louisville:

Capitalize on Louisville's stagnant offense

Despite a slew of recent injuries, UNC's back line has stood strong, giving up one goal over their past five games. After senior center back Julia Dorsey went down with a knee injury, junior Abby Allen and redshirt first-year Emerson Elgin have found success filling the gap.

The Cardinals will look toward fifth-year graduate student Maisie Whitsett on offense, who has four goals and three assists to her name this season. She has been on a cold streak in the team’s recent stretch of games, having recorded no goals or assists in the team’s last seven contests.

Behind her, first-year defender Karsyn Cherry is the team’s second-leading point scorer with three goals on the season. However, Cherry has also been dormant on the scoreboard since the team’s game against Memphis nearly two months ago. 

Corinne Dente also has one goal and one assist for the Cardinals and has been more active in the team’s offense recently, scoring the winning goal against N.C. State in a 1-0 victory.

The Louisville offense will have a tough task assigned to them against redshirt first-year goalkeeper Emmie Allen. Allen has allowed just seven goals on the year alongside 32 saves.

Stay hot on offense

The Tar Heels’ attack will likely flow through junior forward Avery Patterson, who leads the team with nine goals in 17 games played. Also bolstering the UNC offense are redshirt first-year Ally Sentnor and sophomore Emily Murphy, who have 12 and 14 points on the season, respectively.

Senior defender Tori Hansen has been on a scoring streak as of late, scoring in three-straight contests off penalty kicks. The versatile center back is also a threat on set pieces, having scored multiple goals this year off of corner kicks.

The Tar Heels will also look to capitalize on the Louisville goalkeeper Erynn Floyd's recent struggles. Floyd has allowed 15 goals in the 13 games she has played, four of which came from the loss to Duke.

What UNC needs to do to earn the ACC's No. 1 seed

The top seed in the ACC Tournament is up for grabs, given that UNC shares the same conference record as Notre Dame and Florida State at 7-2. The top two seeds in the tournament get a first-round bye, a lucrative prize for this ultra-competitive conference.

In the event that the standings do not change after this weekend, the tiebreaker for determining seeding will be goal differential. UNC currently has the edge over the Seminoles and Fighting Irish by one goal, but the Tar Heels will want a big win against Louisville to cement its spot in the standings. 

A UNC loss and a Duke win could also shake up the postseason picture, as Duke currently sits in fourth place at 6-2-1. The ACC has a strong hold on national rankings, with five teams in the top 15.

The Tar Heels should be heavily favored in this matchup against Louisville. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. and will air on ACC Network.

@Camct7

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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