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Saturday December 3rd

UNC women's soccer advances to next round of NCAA Tournament with 3-1 win over Georgia

UNC red shirt first-year Ally Sentnor (21) protects the ball during UNC's game against University of Georgia on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022 at Dorrance Field.
Buy Photos UNC red shirt first-year Ally Sentnor (21) protects the ball during UNC's game against University of Georgia on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022 at Dorrance Field.

The North Carolina women’s soccer team advanced to the next round of the NCAA Tournament with a 3-1 win over Georgia at Dorrance Field on Thursday evening.

What happened?

The Tar Heels deployed a 3-1-4-2 formation to start the match, which aimed to create more offensive opportunities. Although UNC had only a trip of defenders locking down the back line, the Tar Heels withstood the Bulldogs’ creativity – especially that coming from star forward Dani Murguia – to keep the game scoreless for the first 15 minutes.

North Carolina’s first good scoring chance came in the 18th minute when redshirt first-year forward Ally Sentnor led a counter attack and launched a low shot from distance that rolled just left of the post.

The Tar Heels’ midfield press forced a number of giveaways, granting the team frequent possession deep in the attacking third. In the 23rd minute, UNC scored its first goal of the night when Sentnor received a pass outside the top of the box, pivoted around the Georgia defender and took several dribbles before rifling a strike into the corner of the net to give her team a 1-0 lead. 

Attempting to extend the lead, the Tar Heels continued their midfield-dominated formation, which allowed them to break down the defense with its setup passing and through ball chances. Although the team would not score for the remainder of the half, the Tar Heels maintained control with a 5-2 shot advantage heading into the break.

North Carolina went to work quickly in the second half. Just over five minutes in, junior forward Avery Patterson approached the box and played a pass back to Talia DellaPeruta. The junior midfielder struck a rolling shot to the left corner that skidded past the diving hand of Georgia goalkeeper Jordan Brown to push the Tar Heels’ lead to two goals.

Several minutes later, senior forward Isabel Cox worked her way into the open field, and with the defense anticipating a through ball to the right wing, Cox pushed a pass behind the middle of the Bulldogs’ back line, and Sentnor fired a left-footed strike into the net for her second goal of the night.

The Tar Heels' back line was solid for the rest of the night, though an unassisted goal from Georgia's Madison Haugen gave the Bulldogs a goal with just over 13 minutes remaining. Georgia nearly added another goal a minute later, but a low attempt rolled past redshirt first-year goalkeeper Emmie Allen and out of bounds for a goal kick.

For the final 10 minutes, North Carolina maintained possession and sent the ball to the empty parts of the field to drain the clock, which eventually resulted in the team's 3-1 victory.

Who stood out?

Sentnor paced the UNC offense with two goals – her second brace in as many games. The First-Team All-ACC forward was dynamic throughout the evening, as her offensive attention opened up other areas of the box for fellow attackers.

When was it decided?

Despite holding a slight 1-0 lead at the half, the Tar Heels seemed to be in complete control entering the break. In the early stages of the second period, two quick goals stretched the lead to three, which ultimately sealed the win.

Why does it matter?

After struggling to attack in the ACC Championship, the Tar Heels' offensive corps has resurrected thus far in NCAA Tournament play, registering eight goals in eight games. With star midfielder Sam Meza potentially sidelined for the foreseeable future with a stress fracture, a creative, diverse attack will be needed for the team to maintain its success. 

The win allows North Carolina to continue its tournament run, where the program is seeking its first national title since 2012.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will return to Dorrance Field to face BYU in the regional semifinal. The match will begin at 11:30 a.m.

@hunternelson_1 

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com 

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