Aug. 24, 2009

Courtesy of UNC Athletics

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Defending NCAA women's soccer champion North Carolina tallied three goals in the first 13 minutes of play Saturday night to spark a 7-2 victory for the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels over No. 3-ranked UCLA in the season opener for both teams. A crowd of 3,372 at Fetzer Field sat through a steady rainstorm throughout the night to witness what proved to be a very different game from the one the two played last December 5 in the NCAA semifinals, a 1-0 Tar Heel victory.

Senior forward Casey Nogueira, who won five National Player of the Year awards for the Tar Heels last year, led the balanced Carolina offense with a pair of goals. Sophomore forward Courtney Jones had a goal and three assists and senior midfielder Tobin Heath and sophomore forward Emmalie Pfankuch each scored a goal and had an assist in the match. UNC's other goals came from junior midfielder Ali Hawkins and junior forward Katie Klimczak while sophomore forward Brittani Bartok recorded two assists.

Sophomore forward Sydney Leroux who last December had played with Tar Heels Nikki Washington and Meghan Klingenberg on the U.S. U20 National Team that won the world championship scored both UCLA goals.

Carolina jumped on the Bruins right from the start. In the first minute of the game, the Tar Heels earned a throw-in deep in the UCLA defensive half. Junior forward Jessica McDonald's throw went into the box where a UCLA player mishit a clearance. The ball squirted out to an unmarked Tobin Heath about 12 yards out and Heath one-timed it into the lower left corner of the frame. The goal at the 41-second mark put the Tar Heels up 1-0.

Just over three minutes later, Carolina increased its lead to 2-0. Casey Nogueira struck a ball from outside the box on the left side that caromed off a Bruin defender. The ball went all the way across the box to the right side where Courtney Jones was able to gather it in and toe poke it ahead to Ali Hawkins. Hawkins found herself one-on-one with UCLA goalkeeper Yiana Dimmitt and Hawkins finished off the scoring chance to make it 2-0 at 3:44 of the match.

The Tar Heels struck again just over nine minutes later on a nifty passing combination that resulted in Casey Nogueira's first goal of the season at the 12:55 mark. Courtney Jones fed Jessica McDonald and McDonald found Nogueira in the left side of the penalty area. Nogueira struck a line drive that curved into the bottom right corner of the goal for a three-goal margin. Neither team scored in the final 33 minutes of the half as the Tar Heels maintained their three-goal advantage going into intermission.

At 49:59, the Bruins came within a fingertip of cutting their deficit to two goals as Sydney Leroux's blast from the right side of the box was saved over the end line for a corner kick by UNC senior Ashlyn Harris, who made an acrobatic save on the shot.

It was about 10 minutes later that the Tar Heels scored back-to-back goals just 1:22 apart to salt the game away. At 59:45, Nogueira notched her second goal of the night, taking a pass from Brittani Bartok and sending a low shot just inside the right post to make it 4-0. Courtney Jones also assisted on the goal. Just over a minute later, at the 61:07 mark, Carolina went up 5-0 as Courtney Jones took a feed from Tobin Heath inside the box and finished inside the left post for Jones' first goal of the season. Brittani Bartok also had an assist on the goal.

UCLA got on the scoreboard at the 75:10 mark in the match. Leroux, who earlier had been denied by Harris, earned her first goal of the year off an assist by Zakiya Bywaters. Harris came out on a ball in the penalty area but was unable to corral it. Bywaters chased it down in the right side of the box and her crossing pass hit the right post. Leroux was right there to pounce on the carom and finish into an empty net. Harris was shaken up on the play and left the game as freshman goalie Hannah Daly came on to play the final 14:50 of the match for UNC.

Things got even a little more crazy as the two teams combined to put three goals on the board in less than two minutes as the game headed into its final stages. At 86:14, junior forward Katie Klimczak scored her second career goal. Ironically, her other goal came in the Tar Heels' 2008 season opener exactly one year ago today. Emmalie Pfankuch sent a corner kick from the right side into the center of the box where freshman midfielder Amber Brooks executed a brilliant flick with her head on to Klimczak who finished with her back heel from about three yards out.

The Bruins answered back exactly 25 seconds later as Leroux scored her second goal of the night. She took a pass from Kristina Larsen off the restart, dribbled into the box and finished from about 12 yards out on the right side to the far post.

The ninth and final goal of the night came from Emmalie Pfankuch, the third of her career. A Bruin defender attempted to clear a ball sent into the box from the UNC midfield but Pfankuch gathered it in and found herself with space on the right side of the box. She sent a shot from about 12 yards away with eluded Dimmitt and found the left side netting.

UNC finished with a 24-11 advantage in shots on the night and an 8-6 edge in corner kicks.

The Tar Heels improved to 8-0 all-time against the Bruins. The seven goals were the most UNC has ever scored against UCLA, topping the five the Tar Heels had against the Bruins in a 5-2 victory on September 19, 2003 at the Duke adidas Classic in Durham, N.C. The two goals by the Bruins broke a string of three shutouts UNC had recorded against their visitors from Westwood. UCLA had scored twice against the Tar Heels in that game in 2003 but UNC had since recorded shutouts against the Bruins in meetings between the two sides in the NCAA semifinals in 2003, 2006 and 2008.

Carolina will next be in action Friday and Sunday when it hosts the 2009 Carolina Nike Classic. On Friday, Duke will meet UNC Greensboro at Fetzer Field at 5 p.m. followed by a match between UNC and UCF at 7 p.m. On Sunday, the teams will switch opponents with Duke playing UCF at 1 p.m. and UNC matching up against UNC Greensboro at 3 p.m.