The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 3rd

UNC women's soccer offense wakes up in NCAA Tournament win over Old Dominion

<p>UNC redshirt first-year forward Ally Sentnor (21) protects the ball during the women's soccer 1-2 loss in the ACC Finals against FSU at WakeMed Soccer Park on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022.</p>
Buy Photos

UNC redshirt first-year forward Ally Sentnor (21) protects the ball during the women's soccer 1-2 loss in the ACC Finals against FSU at WakeMed Soccer Park on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022.

Following a disappointing end to the ACC Championship, the North Carolina women’s soccer team wanted to make a statement. 

After a convincing 5-0 win over Old Dominion in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, it's safe to say a statement was made.

In UNC's previous loss to Florida State, the offense was stymied, as the unit was held to just seven shots and didn't earn a corner kick opportunity all game. On Saturday, the Tar Heels seemed to be hungry.

“Our week of practice this week was one of the best we’ve had all year,” redshirt first-year forward Ally Sentnor said. 

The Tar Heels scored early and often. Sentnor began the onslaught in the 6th minute, and the team generated chances all night. The five-goal performance was the team’s most in a game since late August and a major turnaround from its lackluster offense during the ACC Championship.

While Sentnor and junior forward Avery Patterson led the attacking group, first-year Maddie Dahlien also contributed by scoring the second goal of the night.

Although Dahlien has started some games for the Tar Heels this season, head coach Anson Dorrance described her new role as a "co-starter," as she typically comes in midway through each half.

Coming off the bench on Saturday, Dahlien ultimately provided the spark the team needed.

“I really just always want to come off the bench and make an impact, whether that’s helping the team out with a cross or just doing my job defensively,” Dahlien said. “That’s so important coming off the bench and bringing as much energy as possible.”

This all-around offensive explosion is an encouraging sign for a team that excels on the defensive end. UNC has only allowed three goals in its last nine games and is tied for the fewest goals against in the ACC.

“If you look at the success this season, a lot of it has fallen on the defense,” Dorrance said. “I’m very proud of them because what that defense has been able to do, losing player after player after player, is emerge as one of the best defenses in the ACC.”

When the Tar Heels’ offense is able to match the defense’s effort as it did Saturday night, UNC can beat seemingly anybody on any given night. This performance was especially noteworthy considering the team was missing one of its best offensive performers in junior midfielder Sam Meza, who was held out due to injury. 

Dorrance said Meza is dealing with a stress fracture, an “agonizing” injury he had dealt with during his playing career. She is considered day-to-day, and the medical staff will continue to monitor her throughout the week.

“It definitely stinks not to have her,” Sentnor said. “You can never replace a player, but it’s awesome to see that we really combined and connected today.”

With Meza’s status up in the air and the competition inevitably getting tougher, UNC will need more of these performances on offense. 

Old Dominion sneaked into the tournament with a double-overtime win in the Sun Belt Championship and was not expected to put up much of a fight against the second-seeded Tar Heels. Beginning with their second-round matchup against Georgia, though, the Tar Heels' ability to repeat this effort will determine how far they go in the tournament.

“For the two games in the ACC Tournament, we scored once — that’s not good enough,” Dorrance said. “Today, we got our act together.”  

@brendan_lunga18

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.



Comments

The Daily Tar Heel's 2022 Year in Review

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive