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Women’s Soccer shuts out Duke in front of sellout crowd

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A brilliant defensive performance in front of a packed new stadium has UNC looking dangerous already.

NCAA Soccer: DI Women’s College Cup Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

When it was all over, Anson Dorrance had this to say: “The atmosphere here is what I’ve always dreamed of. For our game to really make it, for us to have credibility…this has to be the atmosphere and it has to be a sellout.”

That Dorrance, a man who virtually built the US Women’s National team and established the University of North Carolina as the first true dynasty of women’s college soccer, still finds that his world lacks any credibility is remarkable. But such is the life of a coach or player in the world of women’s sports. No matter what titanic success they enjoy, they are always pushing the boulder up the hill. There is always more growth to be had, or awareness to be raised. That’s why nights like Sunday are important.

Before an overflow crowd of 4,215 in their shiny new stadium, the #2 North Carolina Tar Heels laid waste to their adversaries from Durham. Nearly two years had passed since the Tar Heels and Blue Devils had met and for 90 minutes, it seemed like only one of the teams had been hungrily awaiting the matchup. Don’t let the 2-0 scoreline fool you: this was a wire-to-wire domination.

UNC had started their season off by beating Indiana 3-0, outshooting the Hoosiers 16-1. Duke, the #8 team in the land, was expected to pose a greater challenge. They didn’t. UNC outshot the Blue Devils 14-2, the second Duke shot coming in the final minute of the match, the outcome long since decided.

Were it not for the fabulous play of their veteran goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn, the Dookies would have been buried early: Two gilt-edge chances fell to Aleigh Gambone in the 26th minute, both of which were saved at point-blank range by Heinsohn. Shortly thereafter, she needed to make a diving save to prevent a header from Bridgette Andrzejewski. It wasn’t until the final minute of a lopsided first half that Carolina finally found the way through.

Freshman Hallie Klanke was subbed on in the dying moments before intermission and with 13 seconds left on the clock sent in a cross that found the head of another freshman, the 5’3” Alexis Strickland. Strickland headed the ball down and away, passing Heinsohn and surrounding Duke defenders into the net. It was a wonderfully placed cross and a well finessed header, the first assist and goal of the two frosh’s careers.

The second half saw a lot of Carolina possession and frustrated Duke attempts to get back into the game. The Blue Devils couldn’t break the Tar Heels defense and Carolina enjoyed as comfortable of a 1-0 lead as you can in the beautiful game. An insurance goal came in the 76th minute when Morgan Goff sent in a dangerous cross into the box that Duke defender Caitlin Cosme attempted to head clear. Unfortunately, her clearance nestled into the upper right corner of the goal, past a motionless Heinsohn. It was all over but the clock counting at that point.

For your viewing pleasure, enjoy the highlights below, which include not only the two goals but, more importantly, Bridgette Andrzejewski and Emily Fox at 1:31 murdering Duke defender Delaney Graham before the eyes of the world with back-to-back nutmegs.

UNC, now 2-0, will head to the Husky Invitational in Seattle to face off against the University of Washington on Thursday and then Portland on Sunday.