Behind yet another match-winning performance from redshirt sophomore forward Ally Sentnor, the third-seeded UNC women’s soccer team (12-1-8, 5-0-5 ACC) advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, defeating six-seed Alabama (12-5-5, 5-4-1 SEC), 1-0, Friday at John Walker Soccer Complex in Lubbock, Texas. Sentnor has now scored the game-winner in both of the Tar Heels NCAA Tournament games this season.
The game was a rematch of a tightly contested 1-1 draw played earlier this season in Tuscaloosa.
Friday’s match started choppy and physical. Neither team was able to create any big chances in the opening minutes, but UNC grew into the match as the half progressed. The Tar Heels began to control possession in Alabama’s half and dominate the run of play.
Shortly after senior forward Avery Patterson and junior midfielder Emily Colton saw close-range shots denied by Alabama goalkeeper Coralie Lallier in the 18th minute, the Tar Heels found the breakthrough.
And, of course, it was Sentnor.
In the 19th minute, she received a long ball over the top of the Alabama defense from redshirt sophomore defender Emerson Elgin. Sentnor controlled the ball well on the left flank, cut inside on her right foot and cooly converted into the far corner to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead. For Sentnor, it was her ninth goal of the season, and the ACC Midfielder of the Year has scored in four consecutive matches for UNC.
The lead was nearly two in the 32nd minute when, after a scramble in the box, the ball found junior midfielder Bella Sember. Her shot had the pace but not the placement, and Lallier was able to punch the ball over the crossbar. Lallier also made a nice save to deny sophomore forward Maddie Dahlien from distance in the 38th minute.
While the Crimson Tide started the second half with promise, it wasn’t able to find an equalizer. After the opening minutes of the second 45, UNC began to exert dominance over the match once again. A flurry of shots from Colton, Sentnor and senior midfielder Talia DellaPeruta just before the hour mark pushed Alabama to the brink.
The Tar Heels' best chance to double the lead in the second half came in the 81st minute when sophomore forward Tori DellaPeruta guided her free header from the center of the box right into the hands of Lallier.