Through 83 minutes in Chapel Hill on Sunday afternoon, the women’s soccer team held its own against the second-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.
Sophomore forward Jessica McDonald, however, had other plans as she stole a goal kick and fed a pass to junior forward Casey Nogueira for the game winner with less than six minutes left. It marked the 19th goal of the season for Nogueira, who ranks as one of the nation’s top goal scorers.
Final score: 1-0, in favor of UNC (16-1-2, 9-0-1).
The Hurricanes (10-7-3, 3-5-2) were outshot 33-7 as freshman goalkeeper Vikki Alonzo recorded 14 saves.
“Our defense was awesome like always, and our goalie,” junior midfielder Beverly Goebel said. “We were marking tight and didn’t allow them to turn as much. Although they took a lot of shots, they weren’t so much on frame.”
Offensively, though, Miami couldn’t muster much and took just two shots on goal.
“I feel like they had a bunch of different skills, but I think they’re definitely capable of being beaten,” Goebel said. “It built our confidence to be tied with six minutes left in the game and with the opportunity to play them again.”
On Thursday night, the Canes squeaked past host N.C. State, (8-12, 0-10), 1-0.
Freshman forward Julianne Rickers connected on her third goal of the season from 20 yards out in the 65th minute off a pass from junior midfielder Jessica Wyble.
Alonzo earned her 11th shutout to extend her school record. The previous high for a single season was six by Lauren McAdam in 2006.
“We had a lot of chances in the game and they only had a few, but we put our goal away,” Alonzo said. “The defenders do a very good job because the offense has to go through them before they come to me. I’m just there waiting.”
With the victory, the Hurricanes reached 10 wins for the first time under seventh-year head coach Tricia Taliaferro and will play in the first round of the ACC tournament Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C.
Their first round opponent?
The Tar Heels.
For the first time all season, Miami will play 100 percent healthy as sophomore forward Brittney Steinbruch is scheduled to play in the match.
She missed the previous nine games with a hip injury and leads the team in goals with eight after starting the season with a six-game goal streak.
“We were focused on reaching the ACC tournament and turning everything around these last four games,” Taliaferro said. “I am very proud of this team. We set a goal this season to get to the postseason and I am happy that we were able to execute and reach that goal.”