After losing its first match of the season in the first round of the ACC Tournament, the third-seeded North Carolina women’s soccer team (11-1-8, 5-0-5 ACC) bounced back to defeat CAA champion Towson (15-3-2, 9-1-2 CAA) 3-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night at Dorrance Field.
UNC improves to 24-1 in the NCAA first round and has outscored opponents 102-6.
The match was end-to-end straight from the kickoff. UNC squandered two golden chances one-on-one with the goalkeeper in the opening minutes. Senior forward Avery Patterson skied her shot from close range, and sophomore forward Tori DellaPeruta’s low shot was saved by Towson goalkeeper Riley Melendez well off her line.
With the help of a little luck, it was the Tigers who found the breakthrough in the 25th minute. Forward Jasmine Hamid dribbled into space near the top of the box before letting fly. Her shot glanced off a UNC defender high into the air and over redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Emmie Allen to make it 1-0.
“I think we realized that we needed to change our mentality,” redshirt senior defender Maycee Bell said. “I think we came in almost expecting to win, and they’re a very good team, and we can’t expect that. And so, after that first goal, I just brought everyone in, and I said ‘they want it more than us right now, and that’s not okay.’”
UNC nearly equalized in the 42nd minute when sophomore forward Maddie Dahlien played a square ball across the face of goal, looking for graduate forward Isabel Cox. But the pass was just beyond Cox’s reach and Towson remained in front.
But the Tigers weren’t in front for much longer.
Junior forward Bella Sember picked up the ball outside the top of the box with just over a minute to play in the first half. She created space with a step over and then placed the ball perfectly into the bottom corner, leveling the score at 1-1 with her second goal of the season.
The halftime scoreline reflected what was an even contest in the first 45. Towson outshot UNC 9-8, but the Tar Heels controlled 61 percent of the possession.