CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — In Friday’s ACC Championship, Ryleigh Heck earned a top slot on SportsCenter's Top 10.
After her initial shot was blocked by Duke midfielder Paige Bitting, the UNC sophomore forward grabbed her rebound, flicked the ball up, dribbled it in the air off her stick and then bounced it over the head of ACC Goalkeeper of the Year Piper Hampsch to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 advantage early in the third period.
"In my head, I’m like, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll just try it right now,'" Heck said. "'Why not? You probably won’t even see it coming because you don’t really see that a lot in a lot of games.'"
And, for about six minutes, Heck claimed her spot as North Carolina’s leading scorer over the season, off of one of her favorite moves, "air dribbling" — a skill she started practicing in the fourth grade tucked between the walls of her childhood bedroom.
But when first-year forward and ACC Freshman of the Year Charly Bruder found the back of the cage in the 39th minute off a pass from Heck, the title of the leading goal scorer was split once again between Heck and Bruder, both with 11 goals a piece.
According to head coach Erin Matson, Bruder and Heck are a "unit" inside the circle this year. The pair’s cohesiveness carried No. 2 UNC to a 2-0 victory over No. 3 Duke in the ACC title match to clinch the program’s seventh consecutive championship crown.
With the absence of Matson on the field in a North Carolina uniform, the Tar Heels needed someone to step up on offense this year to fill the gap left by the ACC’s all-time scoring leader. Now, UNC has solidified not one, but two underclassmen as the new leaders of the offense. Currently, Heck and Bruder are tied for fourth in the ACC for goals.
"They’re both just desperate to score,” Matson said. “They love it. They’ll never be sick of it."
After Heck’s goal ignited the UNC offense, the duo made sure to work together to put away the match for good later in the third period.