After completing the regular season unbeaten for the first time since 2004, the fourth-seeded No. 3 North Carolina women’s soccer team (10-1-8, 5-1-5 ACC) suffered its first loss and saw its quest for a 23rd ACC Tournament title come to an end against five seed No. 20 Pittsburgh (14-4-1, 7-2-1 ACC) in a 2-1 extra time loss in the first round Sunday night at Dorrance Field.
It was Pitt’s first victory over the Tar Heels in program history.
“We’re going to use it as motivation,” redshirt sophomore forward Ally Sentnor said after the match. “We’re going to use it to hopefully propel us through the [NCAA] Tournament. We [hadn’t] had a loss yet this season, so it’s just another resilience block that we’re going to use to go forward.”
The match began with both teams jostling for possession and neither dominating the ball. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Emmie Allen made the first save of the match in the seventh minute, stopping a low Panthers’ shot from outside the box.
The only big chance of the first half came in the 23rd minute when Pitt midfielder Deborah Abiodun headed a ball towards Allen from close range after a long, floated free kick. The UNC keeper was up to the challenge, making a good reaction save.
Without a shot on goal, the Tar Heels introduced six substitutes into the fray in the 30th minute to try to inject some life into the game. They finally did force Pitt goalkeeper Ellie Breech into a save in the 34th minute.
While UNC grew into the game late, it struggled to connect in the opponent’s half and create chances for much of the first 45. The Panthers outshot North Carolina 8-5 and the score was 0-0 at halftime.
Just three minutes into the second half, a big chance fell to the feet of sophomore forward Tori DellaPeruta. Sentnor played a clever ball that gave DellaPeruta space to fire at Breech’s goal. But after maneuvering onto her right foot in the center of the box, she couldn’t keep her shot down.
Pitt nearly broke the deadlock in the 60th minute. Abiodun got her head on the ball from a corner and forced Allen into action again. She made another last-ditch reaction save to keep the Tar Heels level.