No. 1 UNC tops Texas soccer in second game of season

Evan Vieth, Soccer beat reporter

North Carolina exhibited why the Tar Heels were the preseason No. 1 team on Thursday, dismantling the home Longhorns in a 2-0 victory at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

The Longhorns entered Thursday’s match winless all time against the Tar Heels, with North Carolina winning five and drawing one, including three wins over the Longhorns in Austin. Texas’ loss also puts the Longhorns at 0-7 all-time against No. 1 opponents. 

“That’s the number one team in the country,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “That’s the standard, and now we know for a lot of young players how to deal with that pressure.”

The Tar Heels started the game hot, putting up three shots on goal in the first five minutes of the game. In just the sixth minute, Texas goalie Savannah Madden was forced to scramble for two separate shots, nearly leading to an opening goal from North Carolina.

“She played fantastic,” Kelly said about Madden’s performance.

Despite the 2-0 score, Madden was all over the 18-yard box, making saves and contesting every ball chipped in.

North Carolina dominated the first half. Though the score stayed even, North Carolina’s insistent pressure and quick feet resulted in a hounding press on the Longhorns, leading to a staggering 63% possession and eight more shots for the Tar Heels. 

“It’s a really good game to see where we’re at,” Madden said. “It’s pretty positive, I do think the team is going to bounce back coming on Sunday.”

The Longhorns did have their chances, with Liz Worden nearly beating North Carolina’s keeper Emmie Allen to a loose ball inside the 6-yard box. Texas managed to string a few promising attacks near the end of the first half, but going into halftime the Longhorns were outworked in both attack and defense by the Tar Heels. 

North Carolina’s 63% possession and 12 shots in the first half didn’t even paint the whole picture, as the Tar Heels seemed to be in complete control over the less physical and slower Longhorn side. North Carolina head coach Anson Dorrance even rotated between 22 players in the first half, 17 of which got more than 10 minutes of game time.

North Carolina struck first, with a 57th-minute goal from junior Avery Patterson. The goal was a long time coming, as North Carolina managed 16 shots with four on target, as well as many other close opportunities, up until that point. 

Patterson followed up her first goal with another in the 78th minute, slotting a shot into the bottom right corner off of a smooth pass from freshman Kate Faasse. Patterson’s brace was the nail in the coffin, as the game ended 2-0. 

The Longhorns’ inability to create chances on offense did them in, with just two shots on target. 

The 1-1 Longhorns will look for redemption against the Florida Gators on Sunday.

“We made it hard on ourselves at times,” Kelly said. “We’re gonna talk about our response on Sunday.”