Oct. 18, 2009

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - North Carolina junior midfielder Ali Hawkins had a goal and an assist Saturday afternoon as the second-ranked Tar Heels held off Virginia 2-1 in women's soccer action before a crowd of 2,207 at Fetzer Field. Hawkins had the deciding goal in the game, scoring on a penalty kick with 1:58 left to lift the Tar Heels to the win.

UNC improved to 12-1-1 on the season and 5-1 in the ACC with the win over the Cavaliers who have been playing in tough luck all season long. Virginia fell to 6-5-3 overall and 1-4-1 in the ACC. UNC moved back into first place in the ACC standings with the win as the Tar Heels now have 15 points while Florida State is second with 13 points and Virginia Tech third with 12 points. The Tar Heels will meet the Seminoles next Thursday at 6 p.m. in Tallahassee, Fla. in a battle for first place in the league standings.

UNC outshot the Cavaliers 12-6 and had a 7-3 edge in corner kicks as the Tar Heels improved to 34-0-2 all-time versus Virginia. This win may have been one of the more bizarre ones in that long series between the teams if for no other reason in the way it unfolded.

Carolina outshot the Cavaliers 7-2 in the first half and found the frame six times but UVa goalkeeper Chantel Jones stopped every thing that came her way. None of the shots was a particularly dangerous opportunity as Virginia's defense held strong and allowed their goalkeeper to be an effective last line of defense. In the first half, Virginia kept the Tar Heels shooting from distance, denying close in chances at the net.

The best scoring opportunity in the first half actually belonged to Virginia's Jess Rostedt at the 20:39 mark. Rostedt timed her offside run well, got behind the entire defense and was moving in quickly on UNC goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. As the UNC defense was making up ground quickly, Rostedt fired a shot from outside the penalty area, but she pushed it wide to the left to keep the game scoreless.

Carolina got on the scoreboard less than six minutes into the second half. The Tar Heels earned a corner kick which senior defender Whitney Engen took from the left side of the pitch. She sent her corner to the far post where Ali Hawkins was positioned at around the six-yard line. Hawkins redirected the ball back across the frame of the goal to freshman Alyssa Rich who was able to chest the ball down and across the goal line for a 1-0 Tar Heel lead. It was Rich's fifth goal of the season and her fourth against ACC teams.

It took Virginia just a little over 10 minutes to answer UNC's tally. The Cavaliers won a throw-in deep in Tar Heel territory on the left side. UNC's Renee Premji cleared the ball off the end line but her clearance was intercepted at the top of the penalty area by Sinead Farrelly. The Virginia midfielder trapped it, took a quick dribble around a Tar Heel defender and sent a low line drive along the ground into the lower left corner past a diving Harris. The goal was Farrelly's fifth of the year.

About eight minutes later, Farrelly had an incredible opportunity to give the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead. A ball was chipped by a UVa midfielder high over the back line into the penalty area where Farrelly gathered it in about 14 yards out dead center and one-timed a ball which had plenty of pace to it at Harris. The Tar Heel senior netminder was able to react to the shot from close range and she punched it away with two fists, not only saving the shot but keeping the ball in play and avoiding a corner kick.

With the game apparently heading to an extra session, the Tar Heels caught a break in the 89th minute, a fortuitous hand ball which produced the win and prevented the two teams from playing overtime for the fifth time in the last eight meetings.

Tobin Heath was volleying a ball from the left side of the box, trying to chip it to the center of the frame for a scoring opportunity by a fellow Tar Heel. Instead, Heath's cross resulted in a hand ball in the penalty area by Emily Carrollo of the Cavaliers. The Tar Heels earned a penalty kick in the process, the third the year off an opponent's hand ball, and Hawkins stepped up and drove the shot into the left side of the net past Jones. It was Hawkins' second goal this year on a hand ball. She also scored the winning goal in the 81st minute against Boston College earlier this month on a penalty kick off a hand ball.

With the goal and assist in the game, Hawkins is now UNC's leading scorer this year with 15 points on five goals and five assists.

The Tar Heels have two road games this week, playing at Florida State Thursday at 6 p.m. and at Miami next Sunday at 1 p.m. UNC's final regular season home game will come on October 29 against Clemson at 7 p.m. at Fetzer Field.