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UNC women's soccer erupts for six goals on senior day

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UNC senior forward/midfielder Avery Patterson (15) kicks the ball on Dorrance Field during the women’s soccer game against Syracuse on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023.

All season, the North Carolina women’s soccer players wrote "FTS" on their wrist tape, signifying the program's years-long motto: "For the seniors."

After a three-game streak of 1-1 draws, the Tar Heels finally put a stop to their offensive troubles in a 6-1 victory over Syracuse on Sunday's senior day. Four of the six goals came from seniors themselves, providing a fitting end to their final regular season game at Dorrance Field.

“Honestly, it’s been really emotional,” redshirt senior defender Maycee Bell said. “We have our senior posters and senior locker room decorations. It’s been a long five years, but a short five years, and I am so happy for the class I’m graduating with, and I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else.”

Bell welcomed nine of her loved ones on the field for the pre-game festivities, the largest group of any of her teammates, and she said it was the first time in her five-year college career that all nine of them were in the crowd to watch her play.

So, when sophomore forward Maddie Dahlien passed the ball into the box amidst a crowd of white and orange jerseys in the 35th minute, Bell made sure she got her foot on it, putting it past the keeper to score her first goal in over two years.

“It was honestly a dream come true to score in front of them,” Bell said. “I’ve been working really hard to try and get that, so it was awesome.”

Bell’s goal came at a perfect time — not only for her but for the team as well.

To start the game, the Tar Heels missed 14 shots, prompting head coach Anson Dorrance to tell his team, “If you shoot the ball over the bar, I’m immediately subbing you.” After that, the goal-scoring barrage began.

Two of those scores came from senior forward Avery Patterson in the second half. Patterson’s first goal in the 77th minute, a header in which she toppled over her defender on her way down, was Dorrance’s favorite memory from the day.

“I want Avery to come into this ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament like she shot out of a cannon,” Dorrance said. “She’s the kind of a player where she can score a goal a game, so I’m glad she scored two today.”

After recording a brace and extending her goal streak to three games, you’d think that might be Patterson's favorite part of senior day, too.

But it wasn't.

“[My favorite thing was,] honestly, my mom walking on the field with me, and [my dad and brother,] but especially my mom because she’s a crying mess,” Patterson said. “And they decorate our lockers before the game so I was thoroughly surprised with some of the things that were in front of my locker, and I couldn’t have had a better day.”

Not only did the Tar Heels finally break out of their offensive slump on Sunday, but they played for and celebrated the seniors. One of UNC's best performances of the season happened on a day dedicated to the seniors and their families in attendance.

As Patterson walked up to the post-game press conference, she let her thoughts on the day be known, simply stating, “I’m feeling very happy today.”

@thenoahmonroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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