CHAPEL HILL– Bathed in beautiful Carolina blue skies, the eyes of the soccer nation were fixed on Chapel Hill Sunday as the No.4 Tar Heels fell to the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers by a 2-0 decision.
***Listen to Coach Dorrance’s post-game interview***
And in an intriguing twist, both UNC and UVA were without the services of their star players Crystal Dunn and Morgan Brian. The pair was absent to represent the U.S. National Team. It became clear the Tar Heels would miss their senior midfielder more.
Before a packed crowd at Fetzer Field, the opening minutes of play saw Carolina serve as the aggressor, pushing the ball into Virginia territory.
However, it was the Cavaliers who struck first. A scoring strike from Brittany Ratcliffe off a throw-in just slipped by the Carolina goalkeeper and into the net 13 minutes into the match.
***Listen to the call***
Some quality foot races ensued between these two top-notch programs as both squads scrambled for control. The urgency for the Carolina side was already evident having fallen behind 1-0.
But the pressure exerted by the Cavaliers was taking its toll on the Tar Heels as Head Coach Anson Dorrance continued to shuffle player s on and off the field to keep fresh legs involved.
At the close of the first half, it was Virginia clinging to a one goal lead. Coach Dorrance, the self-described “eternal optimist”, stressed the importance of regaining composure in his halftime interview.
The opening proceedings of the second half saw a much more inspired attack by the Tar Heels as they worked the ball around the field with sharp, crisp passes.
But the shots on goal were the problem. Virginia continued their edge in that category with scrappy play, nifty passes of their own and continual clearing of the ball across midfield to stave off Carolina attacks.
And eventually, the Cavaliers punched in a second goal to extend the lead to 2-0 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
The final count stayed the same as Virginia walked off with a win over the defending national champion Tar Heels on their home turf.
Carolina only managed four shots on goal in the entire game while the efficient Cavaliers converted on two of their six shots on goal. That was the difference.
With the loss, UNC dropped to 13-3 overall and 7-3 in the ACC. Virginia improved to 16-0 overall on the season and 10-0 in conference.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a Thursday home meeting with the Clemson Tigers.