Yesterday, Anson Dorrance’s #1-ranked Tar Heels took the short drive to Koskinen Stadium (adjacent to Hansbrough Indoor Stadium) to take on the #7-ranked Blue Devils. UNC has gotten off to a hot start in this ACC-only season, defeating Wake Forest and Virginia Tech already, both matches at home.
UNC started the game on the front foot, utilizing their high press to keep Duke pinned in their own half, though they lacked cutting edge in front of goal. Duke was able to get a few dangerous shots in front of goalkeeper Claudia Dickey, including a point blank shot from fullback Delaney Graham in the third minute. Duke was only able to generate offense on the counter-attack by passing over the Carolina defense, which played very high to assist in the overall press.
Duke did not show that they could comfortably play out from the back, as Carolina’s front six were suffocating in their press. This allowed UNC to recycle possession in and around the Duke box off several corners and set pieces. The first goal came in this fashion when Duke goalkeeper Ruthie Jones couldn’t clear the ball out of her box with a weak punch, and Julia Dorsey flicked a ball towards goal that Duke defender Taylor Mitchell accidentally bundled into the net for an own goal, costing Maycee Bell a goal and Dorsey the assist.
Six minutes later, Carolina was back on the scoresheet when midfielder Aleigh Gambone launched an inch-perfect cross from just outside the box, over the head of Duke defender Caitlin Cosme (who, it should be noted, was exactly where she was supposed to be and did everything she was supposed to do. The cross was just perfect) which was met by striker Izzy Brown with her upper back and traps to loop a shot over Ruthie Jones.
UNC was firmly in control from that point on, resisting any Duke pressure to comfortably see the game out. This win will keep Carolina in the top spot of the NCAA women’s college rankings. The Tar Heels are on an incredible regular season unbeaten run, winning 36 and drawing twice since their last loss. Anson Dorrance, much like our hero Tyler Hansbrough, has made himself right at home at Duke, remaining undefeated with an almost embarrassing 17-0-3 record.
Duke had some impressive runs of play and some talented players, but they could never control the game or impose their style. The Blue Devils have a long way to go if they want to hang with the Tar Heels, who probably could have beaten them even worse if they hadn’t lost their trio of English stars to the Women’s Super League in England.
Carolina returns to Chapel Hill to host #3-ranked Clemson on Thursday, October 1st at 4 pm EST. Clemson has started the season hot, winning all three of their matches and scoring ten total goals while keeping three clean sheets. It’ll be a tough match, but ultimately one where the Tigers get these hands:
I learned two interesting tidbits during Sunday’s broadcast on ACCN. Duke goalkeeper Ruthie Jones is the younger sister of Duke and New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. Once you see her face, you’ll instantly see the family resemblance.
Izzy Brown, who scored today, is the daughter of former NC State and NBA player Chucky Brown.