Spartans fall short in NCAA second round, 3-1, to North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NC – The UNC Greensboro women’s soccer season came to an abrupt halt as the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels topped the Spartans, 3-1, in the second round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship.
UNCG finishes the season with a 16-5-1 overall record and a Southern Conference regular season title. The Tar Heels move to 19-3-1 with an ACC regular season title.
The first major scoring opportunity came in Carolina’s favor a little over five minutes into the match. Casey Nogueira blasted a ball from the top left corner of the box. With the pathway clear, the balled sailed across the goal just two feet right of the far post.
At the 16:40 mark, the Tar Heels put the scoring in motion. UNCG blocked a left side shot from Nogueira, the bounce back landed in front of Whitney Engen who was able to sneak it past UNCG’s senior keeper Katherine Ryan and into the bottom left corner for her sixth goal of the season.
Ryan made a couple of dramatic saves in the first half of the match. Following a Spartan foul in the 11th-minute , the Tar Heels dropped a free kick just in front of the box, Ryan leapt to punch the ball out of play and then had to quickly regain her composure and position to save the next Carolina shot taken just seconds later. In the 38th-minute, Carolina’s Yael Averbuch took a right side, free kick from 20 yards out. The ball made its way towards the right post, but Ryan was able to shift quickly to knock the ball down and then make a diving save as the ball rolled just inches from the goal line.
Despite Carolina’s 15-1 shot advantage in the first half, the four-person defensive line made up of sophomore Jennifer Bronson, freshman Katie Evans, senior Jamie Corti and sophomore Leigh Riordon put the pressure on the Tar Heels making them work for each shot opportunity.
Carolina came out quickly in the second half with a near-goal just 30 seconds in. A shot from the right side dribbled just a foot off the goal line. With Ryan out of the box, Riordon stepped in to knock the ball out of reach for the Tar Heels. Just moments later, Evans prevented Carolina from taking a 2-0 lead with a save just inside the right post.
Ryan’s ability to quickly recover was tested again just seconds short of the 49-minute mark as the Tar Heels let loose two shots in 10 seconds. Ryan was able to make saves on both attacks.
Carolina put in the insurance goal in the 54th-minute. Nikki Washington stepped in front of a Spartan pass at the midline and took off towards the goal. It was a footrace between her and Corti, but Washington was able to fend off the pressure and lay the ball in for her sixth goal of the season.
The Tar Heels proved why they are the defending national champions with a Washington-Nogueira goal at the 60:14 mark. Washington dribbled the ball up the right side, stopped just outside the box, and laid a long ball in front of the goal. Ryan came out for the save, but Nogueira reached the ball first for a one-touch over Ryan’s head and into the net.
The Spartans were not held scoreless as they brought the game to 1-3 at the 74:04 mark. Junior Katelynn Donovan took a free kick for the Spartans five yards off of the midline, the ball sailed over the Tar Heels defensive line, and set Davis up for a one-on-one with keeper Ashlyn Harris. Harris stepped forward too late as Davis sent the ball into the bottom left corner.
Less than four minutes later, UNCG found the back of the net once again, but the goal was called off due to an offsides call by the linesman.
The Tar Heels held onto the 3-1 lead to advance to the NCAA third round for the 26th consecutive year.
The Tar Heels held a 12-5 corner kick advantage and outshot UNCG 29-5.
Ryan tallied a career-high 11 saves on the afternoon with the team tacking on another. Carolina’s Anna Rodenbough collected one save.
“I’d like to congratulate Anson [Dorrance] and his group on a great game,” said UNCG head coach Eddie Radwanski following the match. “They are very deserving winners and we wish them well on the next round of the NCAAs.
“It’s always a great opportunity to come here and play Carolina. We are really proud of the way our team competed today especially how they finished the game. All and all it’s been a wonderful season for our team. I’m real happy with the way the group has progressed and performed.”
Reflecting on Ryan’s performance this year and those previous, Radwanski said, “The last two years Katherine has really developed into a phenomenal goalkeeper and a lot of that is the fact that she has had the opportunity to train with Siri [Mullinix]. It’s really helped to sharpen her skills and her confidence.
“If it wasn’t for Kat today there would have been three or four more goals that went in. Kat keeps us in the game. For her to finish her last collegiate game here at Fetzer, against Carolina and play the way she did, I think that’s poetic.”
The Tar Heels will face Notre Dame on Saturday, November 23 for the third round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament.
For more information on UNCG women’s soccer and all other Spartan athletics visit www.uncgspartans.com.
SCORE BY PERIODS
1 2 Total
UNCG.... 0 1 1
NC......... 1 2 3
SCORING SUMMARY: NC – Engen (6) (Nogueira) - 16:40, NC – Washington (6) (unassisted) – 54:44, NC – Nogueira (13) (Washington) – 60:14, UNCG – Davis (2) (Donovan) – 74:04; SHOTS: UNCG 5, NC 29; Saves: UNCG 12 (Ryan 11, Team 1), NC 1 (Rodenbough 1); CORNER KICKS: UNCG 5, NC 12; FOULS: UNCG 6, NC 8.
- UNCG -