CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Freshman Megan Buckingham scored her first career goal in the 73rd minute of play to lift fourth-ranked North Carolina to a 1-0 women’s soccer victory over Ohio State before 2,422 fans at Fetzer Field Sunday afternoon.
Buckingham finished a chance off assists by Annie Kingman and Sarah Ashley Firstenberg at 72:34 as the Tar Heels tallied their first goal of the season after 171:34 of scoreless soccer to begin the campaign. UNC finished 1-1 on the weekend in its own Carolina Nike Classic. Friday night, the Tar Heels dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to No. 6 Stanford in overtime. Earlier on Sunday, the Cardinal defeated the No. 10 Duke Blue Devils 2-0, capitalizing with a pair of second half goals.
All three players who were involved on the goal – Buckingam, Kingman and Firstenberg – recorded their first career points.
Carolina dominated the run of the play against Ohio State’s 4-5-1 formation but was not able to put the ball in the back of the net until its 20th shot of the game. The buildup leading to the goal came down the left side while seven UNC starters were waiting at the substitution table to come in the game.
The Tar Heel reserves would have something to say about things before the starters could return. After some clever passing, the ball was redirected back to Firstenberg who sent a clever ball across the top of the 18 where freshman Annie Kingman got just enough of her right foot on the ball to place it in the path of Buckingham. The freshman took the ball in stride and sent her shot from the right side of the box across frame into the back netting on the left side from 15 yards away.
UNC ended the match with 21 shots in the match, including 10 on goal. UNC also had an edge in corner kicks 11-2.
The Tar Heels had some excellent chances in the first half, outshooting the Buckeyes 14-1. Joanna Boyles had a tremendous opportunity give Carolina the lead in the 10th minute but her shot with pace was tipped over the bar at the last second by Ohio State goalkeeper Megan Geldernick, who finished the match with eight saves. Paige Nielsen missed just high for the Tar Heels at 16:13, before Hanna Gardner’s attempt from outside the penalty area in the 20th minute was tipped over the bar by Geldernick at the last moment.
Ohio State’s only shot of the first half came at 34:40 as Michela Paradiso was able to get some space at the top of box but UNC goalkeeper Lindsey Harris dove to her left and knocked the shot down and prevented any rebound. UNC again had a good chance in the 42nd minute off a Katie Bowen corner kick. Buckingham distracted Geldernick just enough so she spilled the ball after going up to grab it in traffic. The ball squirted out to Carolina’s Maya Worth who struck a good ball only to see a Ohio State defender kick it off the line at the last second.
Carolina’s shot advantage was not as pronounced in the second half at 7-3 but Buckingham’s goal in the 73rd minute was all the Tar Heels needed as they averted going to overtime a second straight time.
UNC travels to the West Coast next weekend where it plays #1-ranked and defending NCAA champion UCLA Friday at 10 p.m. EDT on the Pac 12 Network. Carolina will also play at Pepperdine next Sunday at 4 p.m. EDT.