CHAPEL HILL – Summer Green scored a pair of goals and Anna Sieloff had a stellar game in goal to lead fifth-ranked North Carolina past 13th-ranked Texas A&M 2-0 in the third round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament before 806 fans at chilly Fetzer Field Sunday afternoon.
The Tar Heels’ win earns them a home quarterfinal game in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. The defending NCAA champion Tar Heels will play host to second-ranked UCLA Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the quarterfinal round at Fetzer Field.
The Tar Heels improved to 20-4 with the victory while Texas A&M finished its season with a record of 18-5-2. This marks Carolina’s first 20-win season since the 2009 campaign when that NCAA championship team finished at 23-3-1.
Green scored both of the goals in the game for the Tar Heels. The sophomore striker from Milford, Mich., has been on fire in the last 10 games, recording five goals and five assists during that span. She now has nine goals and six assists in 24 games overall this season.
On the other end of the field, Anna Sieloff made four saves in goal, just one shy of her career high. But the quality of Sieloff’s saves were amazing as she made some huge stops midway through the second half that allowed the Tar Heels to keep their separation from the Aggies.
UNC had to rely on its bench to help overcome the Southeastern Conference Tournament champion Aggies. With Alexa Newfield out of the lineup after being hurt against Indiana Friday night, the Tar Heels then lost Crystal Dunn 19 minutes into the match with an unspecified leg injury. But Tar Heels Brooke Elby, Joanna Boyles, Cameron Castleberry and Paige Nielsen were huge off the bench for UNC, recording 77, 65, 49 and 44 minutes, respectively.
The Tar Heels took advantage of a counterattack to score their first goal less than three minutes into the game. After a corner kick for A&M, the Heels were able to gain possession and were off to the races to the other end of the pitch for a four-on-three. Summer Green dribbled virtually the entire way and when A&M defenders stayed with other Tar Heels, she blasted a shot from the top of the box that caromed inadvertently off an A&M defender and into the back of the goal for Green’s eighth score of the season.
Carolina outshot the Aggies 10-3 in the opening 45 minutes but could not gain a second goal before halftime. The second half was more even with UNC taking nine shots and Texas A&M eight. Both goalkeepers made three second half saves.
UNC caught a break when Green’s shot just a minute and a half into the second period was blocked down by an A&M defender in the box for a penalty kick. Green calmly stepped to the 12-yard spot and drove a kick into the left side for a 2-0 lead at 46:36 of the match.
It’s ironic that would end up being the final score because both teams had several more great opportunities to score. Sieloff’s first big save of the second half came against Annie Kunz at 48:08 as she had a breakaway past the UNC defense but her shot from 15 yards was deflected by Sieloff’s fingertips and rolled just barely past the right post for a corner kick.
At 53:42, Green almost finished off a hat trick but her shot from 20 yards was parried off the cross bar at the last second by A&M goalkeeper Jordan Day. Less than a minute later, Joanna Boyles had a chance off a corner kick that was cleared out by an Aggie defender for at the last moment.
Sieloff would go on to make two more top-flight saves for the Tar Heels both on shots by Kelly Monogue. She stopped a Monogue shot at 56:51. In the 71st minute, Sieloff had to come out of her box on a breakaway by A&M and received a yellow card for colliding with Shea Groom just a yard outside of the penalty area. Monogue’s shot on the free kick went past the Carolina wall but was knocked down by Sieloff and eventually cleared away by the UNC defense over the line for a corner kick
Ironically, that shot and save at 70:42 seemed to end whatever momentum A&M had at the time. After recording eight shots in the opening 25:42 of the second half, Carolina won back the run of play and salted away the win, not allowing a shot by the Aggies in the final 19 minutes.
Overall, UNC outshot Texas A&M 19-11 and had an 8-5 edge in corner kicks.
UNC improved to 14-2 all-time in games against Texas A&M and is 4-0 against the Aggies in NCAA Tournament games, all of which were played at Fetzer Field.