The 2019 North Carolina Tar Heels have unfinished business. Thursday night, they conducted business as usual. For about twenty minutes, however, it looked like it might not be.
For the second consecutive season Anson Dorrance’s side have won the ACC Regular Season Championship by finishing their ten-game schedule unbeaten. Last year’s squad went a perfect 10-0-0 while only a draw against Duke prevented this year’s team doing the same. At 9-0-1 (16-1-1 overall), the Tar Heels are well-positioned to conclude their postseason they way they have planned all year: With a College Cup.
The Tar Heels had already secured the title before heading to Coral Gables, having tallied 25 points over the course of their first nine games. Technically they had nothing to play for, but you wouldn’t know it to watch UNC’s form. The Tar Heels exploded out of the gate, winning a series of corner kicks before Rachel Jones scored the opener in the 19th minute, the assist coming from freshman Isabel Cox. UNC would have several more chances to extend the lead in the first half, but couldn’t capitalize.
Dorrance, as he has done all year, substituted freely and at one point brought in six subs simultaneously. Despite the turnover of personnel, UNC dominated the chances and possession Miami, however, stuck to their core players and in the 42nd minute found the equalizer through Tia Dupont. The Canes struck again right after the break, with a goal from Michelle Giamportone in the 47th minute. The classic fallacy of soccer seemed to have struck again, with a team’s opportunism taking precedence over its overall quality: Miami had had two shots all game to Carolina’s 10, but they had made both of theirs.
Then UNC turned it up another notch: Wave after wave of attacks hit the Canes until Zoe Redei equalized in the 62nd and Brianna Pinto, fittingly, closed the deal with an 84th minute winner. UNC finished with 21 shots to Miami’s 3 and 13 corner kicks.
For Pinto, her last goal made it ten on the season, while Redei and Jones each tallied their third. The Tar Heels will now begin ACC Tournament play on Sunday, November 3rd in Chapel Hill.