CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami women’s soccer team fell to defending national champions North Carolina 4-0 Sunday afternoon at Cobb Stadium.
“I’m really proud of our team,” head coach Mary-Frances Monroe said. “In my eyes, Carolina is the top team in the country. We had a gameplan going into the game – they stuck to it, they bought in, they were confident, and they were ready to play.”
Tar Heels midfielder Crystal Dunn, who was awarded the 2012 Herrmann Trophy as the best collegiate women’s player in the nation, registered her first career hat trick in the victory. Summer Green converted a penalty kick with less than five minutes to go in the game to cap the scoring for fifth-ranked Carolina (8-2-0, 2-2-0 ACC).
The Hurricanes (6-3-0, 1-3-0) nearly opened the scoring in the ninth minute, as Tara Schwitter’s service on a corner kick found Erin McGovern on the fringes of the six-yard box. The junior midfielder’s header was blocked by the Carolina defense, however, to maintain a scoreless deadlock in the early going.
North Carolina opened the scoring in the 29th minute on an impressive individual sequence from Dunn. The senior flicked the ball past Miami defender Blake Stockton, made a move to her left and fired a shot past an outstretched Emily Lillard into the far corner of the net.
“That’s why she is the best college player in the country, because she gets it done,” Monroe said. “I thought we did a good job of frustrating her, and Tara did a great job of marking her. But with a player like that, if you give her a little inch, she’ll score a goal.”
Miami trailed by just one heading into the second period, and brought a renewed sense of energy to the pitch after the halftime break. The Hurricanes’ efforts were quickly rewarded with two corner kicks, and McGovern nearly tied the match with a header saved by Carolina keeper Anna Sieloff in the 54th minute.
After the pace evened out between the two sides, Dunn added two more tallies in a span of seven minutes – one in the 64th, another in the 70th - to put the game out of reach.
“She is so fast, so agile, so athletic. She understands the game so well,” Monroe said of the Heels’ leading scorer. “Her movement off the ball is so dynamic.”
A foul committed by freshman Gracie Lachowecki in the 86th minute resulted in a penalty kick, which Green converted to finish off the 4-0 decision. Lillard made six saves in the loss.
Despite the outcome, Monroe said she is excited with the progress her team is making on a match-by-match basis.
“The way we played today doesn’t show in the score. If we keep playing the way we did today, we’re going to find a lot of success,” she said. “Everyone is on the same page. I’m not happy we lost, but there are some positives we can take from this game.”
The Hurricanes return to the field Thursday with a road match-up at No. 3 Florida State. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.