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Against Wake Forest, UNC women's soccer team draws for sixth time this season

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UNC junior midfielder/forward Emily Colton (19) strikes the ball against Duke University on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, at Koskinen Stadium. UNC and Duke tied 1-1.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The No. 3 North Carolina women’s soccer team is still undefeated, but there's a catch.

Out of their 15 games this season, the Tar Heels have tied in six of them. Most recently, Friday's 1-1 draw at Wake Forest represents a continuation of struggling with late-game mismanagement and slower offensive production — in its past eight games, UNC has only netted one goal in six of them.

Last year, the NCAA made a rule change to eliminate overtime in the regular season. But even still, the Tar Heels only had one draw last year, in the ACC Tournament semifinal against Duke, which had to go to overtime anyway.

“We have to regain a certain self-belief that we can beat teams and hold onto the lead," head coach Anson Dorrance said. "That’s an issue. We need to develop some verbal leadership out there on the field, which I think will help us build our self-belief because we certainly have players that can make a difference.”

On Friday, graduate midfielder Emily Moxley found senior forward Avery Patterson on a cross in the 59th minute to put UNC up 1-0  — all while Patterson was sporting a cast on her right hand due to a broken pinky finger suffered in the game against Duke.

“[Moxley] served it and then there was a shuffle in the box, and it got cleared out,” Patterson said. “We scouted that Wake would have a high line, so I just made sure to stay onside.”

Then, in the 78th minute, the Demon Deacons took a free kick near the halfway line. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Emmie Allen rushed up to catch the ball but ran into sophomore defender Tessa Dellarose, who was simultaneously trying to head the ball away. 

The ball fell to former Tar Heel Emily Murphy. She booted the ball once, which Allen blocked. As the ball bounced off of Allen, Murphy controlled the rebound and slotted the ball in, tying the game 1-1.

“We just need to work on concealing the game and making sure we don’t get scored on,” junior midfielder Emily Colton said.

Despite being undefeated, there are considerable consequences to the Tar Heels having a 40 percent draw rate. The primary one is that instead of the three points per win that they’d receive for conference standings, they only get one point.

With the ACC Tournament in less than two weeks, North Carolina sits in fifth place with a 4-0-3 conference record. The Tar Heels won't clinch a bye in the semifinals if they are unable to finish first or second in the ACC. Currently, UNC is just one point behind Clemson, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh, who are all tied for second place.

And, looking past the ACC Tournament, if the Tar Heels continue to tie games, the former top-ranked team will continue to drop in the polls and, thus, won't be able to host as many NCAA Tournament games at Dorrance Field.

In short, even if ties aren’t losses, they could be costing North Carolina in the long run.

“We’re just tying too often," Dorrance said. "We’ve got to figure out how to put teams away and hold onto the lead."

@thenoahmonroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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