Nov. 22, 2008

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The University of North Carolina women's soccer team extended its defensive scoreless streak to 671 minutes and 49 seconds as it defeated the University of Illinois 3-0 Saturday night in the Round of 16 of the 2008 NCAA Women's College Cup. The Tar Heels improved to 22-1-2 with the victory before a crowd of 1,852 at Fetzer Field on a night when the temperatures were in the 30s.

The Tar Heels, seeded No. 1 in the lower right quadrant of the bracket, will meet either No. 2 seed Florida or No. 3 seed Texas A&M, next Friday at 2 p.m. at Fetzer Field in the NCAA quarterfinals. That time is pending approval by the NCAA.

This marks the 25th time in the 27 years of the NCAA Tournament that North Carolina has advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament. UNC improved its all-time tournament record to 97-7-1 with the victory.

UNC went ahead on an own goal late in the first half and then broke the game open with two goals less than a minute and a half apart 20 minutes into the second half. UNC outshot the Fighting Illini 17-6 and had a 6-1corner kick edge as Illinois saw its season end at 12-9-2.

The UNC defensive back three of juniors Kristi Eveland and Whitney Engen and sophomore Rachel Givan along with the goalkeeping combination of senior Anna Rodenbough and junior Ashlyn Harris has now held Tar Heel opponents off the scoreboard for a period of nearly 672 minutes. The last goal surrendered by the Tar Heels came at the 68:11 mark of UNC's 2-2 tie with Florida State on October 30, 2008.

UNC took the lead at 31:24 of the match on an own goal. Tobin Heath fed a through ball down the middle of the pitch to Casey Nogueira who split the Illinois defense. Her shot was saved by Illinois goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka and the ball appeared to be going wide left for a Tar Heel corner kick. But Illinois defender Emily Zurrer attempted to clear the ball out of harm's way but instead redirected the ball into the lower left side of the net.

The Tar Heels outshot the Illini 8-0 in the first half and had a defensive lockdown on the game. Kapicka had three of her five saves in the first half, including a save on a half volley off the foot of Nogueira at the six-yard line in the 21st minute that seemed destined to put the Tar Heels on the scoreboard.

Illinois was able to get into more of an offensive flow in the second half, getting off six shots and forcing three saves by UNC goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris who came on at halftime in relief of starter Anna Rodenbough.

But a pair of timely substitutions by UNC head coach Anson Dorrance helped lead to a pair of Carolina goals in a span of less than two minutes that broke the game wide open.

Dorrance had freshman midfielder Rachel Wood go on for Yael Averbuch in the 57th minute and then freshman forward Brittani Bartok replaced Jessica McDonald at 64:43.

Just 1:01 after Bartok entered the match she helped produce the goal that put the Tar Heels up 2-0. Bartok won possession on the right side and sent a pass back to Ali Hawkins outside the box on the right side. Hawkins sent a pass across the 18-yard line to the left side where Rachel Wood fired a laser that Kapicka was just able to get her hands on. But the Illini keeper wasn't able to control the ball as she deflected it off the lower right post where it ricocheted across the goal line for the score. It was Wood's second goal of her freshman season, both in the last two games. She had the opening goal of last Sunday's 4-0 NCAA second round win over Charlotte as well.

The Tar Heels made it 3-0 just 1:23 after the goal by Wood. Nogueira was at the center of the goal that gave the Tar Heels separation as she tallied her 23rd score of the season off assists by Allie Long and Brittani Bartok. Just as on the second goal of the match, Bartok's hustle paid off as she won a ball on the right side and fed it to Allie Long who then pushed a pass to her left on to the foot of Nogueira. Nogueira made sure this shot was not saved as she sent it far post past Kapicka and inside the left post from 16 yards out.

UNC senior midfielder Yael Averbuch started her 102nd consecutive game. Averbuch, who has never missed a game or a start in her career, broke the school record for career games started which she had shared with Cindy Parlow (1995-98), Tiffany Roberts (1995-98) and Danielle Borgman (1998-2001).

The game was a coaching matchup of UNC's Anson Dorrance, who started the women's program at Carolina in 1979, and Illinois' Janet Rayfield, who played for Dorrance on the first four varsity UNC teams from 1979-82. Rayfield led UNC to an AIAW national title in 1981 and the first-ever NCAA women's soccer championship in 1982.