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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's soccer opens season with 0-0 draw against No. 10 Penn State

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UNC redshirt senior defender Maycee Bell (25) getting ready to kick the ball during a women’s soccer exhibition against the East Carolina University Pirates at Dorrance Field on Saturday, August 12, 2023. The Tar Heels won 2-0.

The No. 2 North Carolina women’s soccer team (0-0-1, 0-0 ACC) tied with No. 10 Penn State (0-0-1, 0-0 Big Ten), 0-0, to open up the 2023 regular season at Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pennsylvania.

North Carolina dominated possession from the start, employing high defensive pressure that forced numerous Penn State turnovers. Senior midfielder Sam Meza, who was sidelined to injury during last postseason, orchestrated several drives with crafty footwork and elite vision. But despite UNC boasting 10 shots in the first half, including well-placed strikes by junior midfielder Emily Colton and senior midfielder Talia DellaPeruta, UNC was unable to find the back of the net. The Nittany Lions picked up the offensive tempo as rain showers intensified, but a tackle by graduate forward Isabel Cox deterred a breakaway scoring opportunity. The Tar Heels held the Nittany Lions to just two shots in the first 45 minutes.

The second frame began with a clutch fingertip save by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Emmie Allen. Following a yellow card given to Dellaperuta, a crucial slide by first-year defender Savy King countered a strong Penn State attack. A 30-minute weather delay prolonged the stalemate but allowed Penn State to devise an aggressive game plan. Eventually, despite outshooting Penn State 19 to 5, North Carolina had to settle for the draw. 

After falling to UCLA in double overtime in last year’s NCAA championship match, the Tar Heels are aiming to make another deep postseason run. Highlighted by its No. 1 recruiting class and returning nine starting players, UNC looks poised to remain along the nation's elite collegiate programs.

North Carolina's season opener served as an important litmus test, previewing a challenging schedule consisting of nine top-25 teams and 13 2022 NCAA tournament competitors. The Tar Heels will play their first home game on Sunday against California at 1 p.m.

@moiramartin010

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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