Women’s Soccer: No. 1 UNC’s offense put too much pressure on Virginia

By Clay Meeks
JerryRatcliffe.com Correspondent

Photo: UVA Athletics

In this much anticipated game, a matchup between the two top-winning ACC coaches, the Cavaliers fell short of the No. 1 Tar Heels with a 1-0 loss, on an early second half goal by forward Ally Sentnor. The Heels totaled 11 shots, 7 of which occurred after the half. Sentnor alone was responsible for 6 of them. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers’ offense struggled to put shots on target, with only 2 of their 9 total shots being on goal, and failing to capitalize on 4 corner kicks. 

It was a dominant game for North Carolina in Virginia’s defensive midfield, and Carolina’s 7 offsides penalties served more to show the offensive aggression on display than as a detriment to positioning.

Cavaliers goalkeeper Cayla White did well to fend off the Carolina offense, however, earning herself 5 saves over the course of the 90 minutes. Despite the possession share being in Virginia’s favor, the ball was mostly kept in its lower midfield, as the Cavaliers struggled to beat Carolina up the field and put pressure on the defense. Carolina goalkeeper Emmie Allen ended the match with only 2 saves, despite 9 Virginia shots.

The offensive qualms of Virginia may be attributed to a rash of injuries affecting the midfield. In early August, key contributors Lia Godfrey and Emma Dawson were ruled out of the 2023 season, leaving a set of new starters to be adapted into the lineup.

Credit is due to both defenses with highlights from Virginia’s Samar Guidry, placing needed pressure on Carolina’s ability to move the ball up the right side. Carolina defenders played mostly excellent isolation defense against UVA’s outside midfielders to push them up the sideline and prevent any crossing options from emerging, leaving the Cavaliers to find them only in corner kicks, in which they found no extra breathing room. It’s impressive nonetheless for UVA’s defense to hold the top-ranked, undefeated Carolina squad to a single goal.