The North Carolina Women's Soccer team (16-2-2) is moving on to the 2nd weekend of the NCAA College Cup thanks to a devastating performance by the 1-seeded Tar Heels at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday.
It's not often that one would describe a 3-0 victory to be a merciful result for the vanquished, but that's exactly what the final tally was for the overwhelmed High Point Panthers (13-8-1). Much more indicative of the Heels' total dominance are two stats: 23-0 in shots and 17-0 on corners.
That's right: 90 minutes of play and the Panthers didn't manage to get a shot away. 90 minutes of play and a Tar Heel didn't knock the ball out of their own endline. In all honesty, the only real question lingering after the match was how on earth the Tar Heels managed to score only three goals.
The first of the goals that were scored, however, came from defender Abby Ellinsky in the 6th minute. After a botched corner, Midfielder Megan Buckingham made a nice slashing drive in from the left wing, and laid off a pass to an unmarked Ellinsky, who blasted her shot from just outside the box into the upper 90.
Ellinsky would also assist on Carolina's other goals: A poor clearance by High Point on a cross into the box led to a scrum right in front of the net that Ellinsky eventually controlled and tapped to Julia Ashley who finished it off. Her goal came in the 39th minute of play. The third and final goal came in the 69th minute when an Ellinsky-headed corner was tapped in by Morgan Goff. Ellinsky was credited with the assist, though she may have a good-natured bone to pick with Goff: Her header looked to be goal-bound before Goff poached it at the last second.
All in all, it was a victory earned in a fashion typical of this year's Tar Heel team. The Heels used their phenomenal midfield play to dominate possession and keep their opponents from building any meaningful attack. The Heels also used their depth to great effect, with 21 different players coming on during the course of the match. This Tar Heel team may not necessarily be the most talented in the country, but it is surely the deepest, and Anson Dorrance's confidence in his so-called 'bench players' has been high all year. If the Heels are going to succeed in the tournament going forward, it will be because they are able to wear their opponents down.
The Tar Heels will face the Buffaloes of Colorado University in the Round of 32 at WakeMed in Cary. The game will take place on Friday, November 17th at 5:00 pm ET.