RALEIGH, N.C. – The ninth-ranked University of North Carolina women’s soccer team ran off its fifth successive victory and remained unbeaten in Atlantic Coast Conference play by holding off NC State 2-1 Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 1,140 fans at Dail Soccer Field.
UNC’s goals came from Amber Munerlyn and Paige Nielsen as Carolina improved to 6-2-1 on the season and 3-0-0 in the ACC. The Tar Heels had to withstand a late NC State surge as UNC saw its lead cut in half in the 88th minute and the Wolfpack continued to pressure the Tar Heel goal in the last two minutes but could not gain the equalizer. NC State has lost three successive ACC games by a single goal to Wake Forest, Duke and North Carolina and is now 2-7-2 overall.
The game was marred for UNC by lower body injuries sustained by starting midfielder Brooke Elby and freshman forward Jewel Christian. Both players were being evaluated post match and their status will be disclosed at a later time. Elby started and played the first nine minutes before going off the field. Christian replaced her and played the next seven minutes before she was taken off.
UNC head coach Anson Dorrance ended up using his bench extensively as a season high 22 players saw action.
After a lackluster opening 20 minutes, the Tar Heels picked up their game after seeing their injured teammates go off the field. Carolina had a great chance off a corner kick at the 18-minute mark but Summer Green’s shot from 15 yards away on the left side of the box was tipped off the cross bar by NC State goalkeeper Mackenzie Stelljes.
Less than two minutes later, Carolina took a 1-0 lead and Green was involved again. The junior forward slipped a nifty through ball to Amber Munerlyn who took it on her right foot, dribbled around Stelljes toward the end line and then sent a shot across the frame of the goal and into the left side netting. It was Munerlyn’s second goal of the season. She also had the game-winner against Penn State in double overtime earlier this month.
After the opening goal, the Tar Heels continued to pressure NC State and Stelljes was forced to make saves on another dangerous shot by Green in the 30th minute and a shot by Emily Bruder just 38 seconds later. NC State’s only shot on goal in the first half came in the 37th minute with Lindsey Harris making the save on it.
Carolina outshot the Wolfpack 14-1 in the first half and dominated possession the last 25 minutes of the period.
UNC continued to pound away in the second half, outshooting the Pack 14-4. But the Heels had only three shots on frame in the second 45 minutes, repeatedly squandering some excellent chances. Stelljes stopped shots by Paige Nielsen and Jessie Scarpa just 30 seconds apart in the opening minutes of the period. Both were excellent chances to double the lead.
Nielsen eventually gave UNC a 2-0 lead at 78:27 when she collected a pass just inside the 18-yard box, turned and shot to the far post for her first goal of the season. Both Joanna Boyles and Amber Munerlyn assisted on the goal. Just last Thursday, Nielsen assisted on the game-winning goal at Clemson before scoring the game-winner herself Sunday.
The Wolfpack broke through to score its first goal in an ACC game this season at 87:24. The Wolfpack capitalized on a Tar Heel turnover in the attacking third with Brittany Stanko breaking free to score from the right side of the penalty area. Alex Allen assisted on the goal which was Stanko’s second of the season.
UNC finished with a 26-5 edge in shots and a 6-0 edge in corner kicks. Stelljes made six saves for the Wolfpack and Lindsey Harris (first half) and Bryane Heaberlin (second half) made one save each for Carolina.
The Tar Heels have little time to rest on their laurels as they will play host to second-ranked Virginia Tech this Friday at 4 p.m. at Fetzer Field as part of a women’s and men’s doubleheader. The women’s game will be televised nationally on the ACC RSN Network with affiliates from coast-to-coast airing the game. It will also be simulcast on ESPN3/Watch ESPN. The game will also be broadcast live on WCHL Radio (97.9 FM) with Paul Connell and John Stanley on the call.