With only the goalkeeper between her and the back of the net, Texas Tech forward Alex Kerr had her eyes on an equalizer. But UNC first-year defender Savy King, as was the case all match, was up to the challenge. With lightning-fast recovery speed, she closed down Kerr’s space and forced her shot high and wide.
King spearheaded a sensational defensive performance for the third-seeded North Carolina women’s soccer team (13-1-8, 5-0-5 ACC) in its 1-0 victory over No. 2 Texas Tech (16-2-5, 8-0-2 Big 12) in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon at John Walker Soccer Complex in Lubbock, Texas.
The Tar Heels did not allow a shot on goal over the 90 minutes, marking five straight halves in which UNC has held its opponent without a shot on target.
North Carolina started the game well, winning the ball in the midfield and breaking into the Red Raiders’ half. The Tar Heels first shot on goal came in the 10th minute when senior midfielder Sam Meza won the ball back and launched an attack that ended with a redshirt sophomore forward Ally Sentnor shot, saved by Texas Tech goalkeeper Madison White.
The Red Raiders might have had a breakthrough less than two minutes later if it wasn’t for a crucial block by redshirt senior defender Maycee Bell. She deflected forward Gisselle Kozarski’s shot from close range just wide.
Texas Tech began to control possession in the middle of the first half, but UNC’s back line, always with numbers behind the ball, prevented the Red Raiders from creating any clear-cut chances.
Sophomore forward Maddie Dahlien came off the bench as part of a reserve unit that helped the Tar Heels exert dominance over the match in the latter part of the half. Shortly after coming on, Dahlien shrugged off two defenders in the box but fired right at White and was denied. Of UNC’s nine shots in the first half, the substitutes recorded five of them with Dahlien accounting for three.
Texas Tech weathered that storm and nearly scored against the run of play just before the break. Forward Taylor Zdrojewski’s header went just wide of the far post, and the match was tied 0-0 after a physical first half.
The second half started with both teams fighting for possession in a crowded midfield and neither controlling the play. The first shot of the half didn’t come until the 59th minute. Graduate defender Emily Moxley’s curled effort was deflected off target.