The North Carolina women's soccer team (15-4-1, 8-2 ACC) fell to Florida State (13-2-3, 8-2 ACC), 2-1, in the ACC Women's Soccer Championship final on Sunday afternoon.
The Seminoles had two corner kicks early in the game, but neither set piece resulted in a shot on the goal.
The Tar Heels struggled to establish themselves in the attacking third, as Florida State's midfield stopped nearly every clear attempt by UNC. About 20 minutes into the game, UNC got off its first shot and didn't waste it.
Senior right back Emily Moxley dribbled her way up the field and threaded a pass to senior forward Isabel Cox on the right wing, who sent a cross to junior Avery Patterson. Patterson side-stepped a defender and shot the ball, which deflected off the goalkeeper into the upper left corner to put UNC up, 1-0.
The Tar Heels had a chance to double their lead just a few minutes later when Moxley earned a free kick from the left wing. Moxley sent the ball just a little too high for Patterson, lurking in front of the goal, to head in the ball off the set piece.
At the 31st minute, Florida State's Jenna Nighswonger scored the equalizer off a corner kick. Nighswonger didn't need any assistance from her teammates, taking the corner kick herself and bending the ball right into the goal over the head of UNC keeper Emmie Allen.
The teams battled for possession for the remainder of the half, but North Carolina didn't get off another shot until the break.
The Seminoles scored early coming out of halftime. In the 49th minute Nighswonger took a shot from outside the penalty box that Allen saved, but senior forward Jody Brown was there to score off the rebound.
The Tar Heels had a chance at an immediate counter, but junior midfielder Sam Meza's through ball to Cox had just a little too much on it, turning the ball back over to Florida State. The teams played at a blistering pace following FSU's second goal, as UNC urgently searched for a chance to score the equalizer.
Still, the Tar Heels were limited on their shot attempts. Patterson had the team's third shot of the afternoon and first of the second half in the 78th minute.
Who stood out?
Patterson commanded UNC's offense as first-team All-ACC selection Ally Sentnor struggled to make an impact against the Seminoles' defense. The entire Florida State back line, along with goalkeeper Cristina Roque, executed their game plan against the Tar Heels to perfection.
On the other side of the pitch, Nighswonger and Brown were Florida State's two most dangerous weapons throughout the game.
When was it decided?
Florida State suffocated UNC's offense for the entire second half, as the Tar Heels failed to find any fruitful scoring attempts. In the 89th minute, Roque was issued a yellow card, allowing UNC an indirect free kick from the left side of the goal. Patterson took a shot at the equalizer but it soared high over the goal.
In the final minute of the game, the Seminoles commanded possession of the ball and ran down the clock to secure their third-straight ACC Championship title.
Why does it matter?
Florida State dominated the Tar Heels after UNC's early goal, holding a typically fiery offense to just seven shots. They succeeded at limited the Tar Heels' chances, not allowing UNC any corner kicks the entire game.
The two ACC powerhouses shared the regular season title and have now split the two games they have played against each other this season. Both are likely to earn No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament and could meet for a trilogy bout in the College Cup.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will wait to see where they fall when the NCAA Tournament bracket is announced on Monday. The tournament will begin next weekend on Friday, Nov. 11.
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