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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 2 UNC women's soccer cruises past California in home opener, 3-1, to secure first win of the season

UNC senior forward/midfielder Avery Patterson (15) dribbles the ball in the August 20, 2023 game against the University of California at Dorrance Field. UNC beat the University of California 3-1.

The No. 2 North Carolina women's soccer team (1-0-1, 0-0 ACC) defeated California (0-2, 0-0 PAC-12), 3-1, in its first home game of the 2023 season at Dorrance Field on Sunday afternoon.

The Tar Heels showcased their skill early on with impressive ball control from redshirt senior defender Maycee Bell and calculated passes from redshirt sophomore midfielder Emerson Elgin, creating an opportunity for senior forward Avery Patterson to score by the third minute. 

UNC’s ease on offense was a stark difference from its last game.

On Friday, UNC was held scoreless in a 0-0 draw against Penn State. Dorrance said that, when the Tar Heels were able to convert in Sunday’s game, the relief was palpable. 

“We’re a good team,” Dorrance said. “It wasn’t a question of if, it was a question of when.”

Cal forward Karlie Lema tied the game 10 minutes after Patterson’s goal. 

UNC amped up its offensive cadence in response by driving eight shots past California’s defense in the next 25 minutes. Then, in the 41st minute, following a clearance by first-year forward Mia Oliaro, first-year midfielder Melina Rebimbas’ shot found the back of the net, closing the first half with a 2-1 Tar Heel lead.

UNC didn't slow down coming out of the break, with first-year forward Olivia Thomas cruising by California's defense for a goal off a setup by redshirt sophomore midfielder Ally Sentnor and graduate defender Emily Moxley. The Golden Bear offense attempted to get in rhythm, but UNC's smothering defense held California to just one shot each half. From there, the Tar Heels dominated possession to close out the game with a convincing 3-1 win.

The first-year Tar Heels lived up to the hype that came with their No. 1 recruiting class ranking at their first home game. Oliaro provided meaningful minutes on defense, along with Rebimbas and Thomas scoring their first goals as Tar Heels.

Coming from a small high school in Michigan, Thomas faced a lot of changes early on as a Tar Heel and said that playing at one of the best programs in the nation has “been an adjustment.” 

“Working with seniors who are such great leaders and getting used to the speed of play and this transition together has been such a good experience,” she said.

North Carolina's promising first-year play, coupled with its nine returning starters, have the Tar Heels geared up to make another deep postseason run after falling to UCLA in double overtime in last year's NCAA College Cup Final.

“We did a great job executing everything that we wanted to and scored a couple of great goals, especially in the second half,” first-year defender Savy King said. “If we continue to play like we did today and keep on improving, we’re gonna have a great season.”


  • UNC will next play at home on Thursday against Wisconsin at 4 p.m.
  • Dorrance provided an update on graduate defender Julia Dorsey. 
    • Dorsey, who also plays on the UNC women’s lacrosse team, suffered an ACL tear in the spring and will likely be out for the remainder of the women's soccer season. 
    • Dorrance is encouraging her to rest, and the team is standing with her. They will continue to train her, knowing she has the potential to sign a pro soccer contract after she graduates in December.


@dthsports |

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