Nov. 21, 2009

 

Courtesy of North Carolina Athletics

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -
Senior forward Casey Nogueira scored her ninth goal of the season in the 82nd minute and North Carolina's defense posted its eighth straight shutout as the third-ranked Tar Heel women's soccer team defeated 19th-ranked Maryland 1-0 in the NCAA third round before a crowd of 2,898 at Fetzer Field Saturday afternoon.

Carolina became the seventh No. 1 or No. 2 seed to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels will play host to Wake Forest, the No. 3 seed in the upper right quadrant of the bracket, in the NCAA quarterfinals on Friday, November 27 at 2 p.m. at Fetzer Field. The other quarterfinal games will feature No. 2 seed Boston College at No. 1 seed Stanford in the upper left quadrant, No. 2 seed Portland at No. 1 seed UCLA in the lower left quadrant and No. 2 seed Notre Dame at No. 1 seed Florida State in the lower right quadrant.

UNC's team defense was again a major part of UNC's post-season success. The Tar Heels have now posted eight successive shutouts. The last time Carolina posted at least eight shutouts in a row came in 1997 when the Tar Heels shut out eight straight opponents from October 3, 1997 to October 26, 1997.

Carolina has not allowed a goal in the past 742 minutes and three seconds of play. UNC has not allowed a score since the 80:11 mark of the 1-0 loss to Miami on October 25. Earlier this year Carolina had a scoreless streak 12 seconds longer than its current one. UNC, led by the defensive back line of Ashlyn Harris, Whitney Engen, Kristi Eveland and Rachel Givan, had a 742 minutes and 15 second scoring streak that began in the 87th minute of the UCLA game on August 22 and extended to the 89th minute of the victory against Duke on September 24.

Saturday marked the third time in 20 days that the Tar Heels and the Terrapins have faced each other. UNC edged the Terps 1-0 on November 1 at Ludwig Field in College Park, Md. on an early goal by Maria Lubrano. Three days after that the Tar Heels had a much more comfortable margin against the Terps, posting a 3-0 win the ACC Tournament quarterfinals at Cary, N.C.

Saturday's match played more to the script of the first game between the two teams but the difference was that this time the Tar Heels scored late rather than early to produce the margin of victory.

Carolina came out firing in the opening part of the match, outshooting the Terrapins 10-5 in the opening half. Neither team was able to scratch, however, as Mary Casey stopped five shots and another Tar Heel attempt was saved off the line by a Maryland defender. Carolina's Ashlyn Harris made her only two saves of the game in the opening 45 minutes.

After the teams combined for 15 shots in the first half, the second half was played a bit more close to the vest with only eight shots in the second half. It was the last shot of the game which made the difference, however.

Initially, the play that led to the goal did not seem to be especially dangerous. The Tar Heels earned a throw-in about 35 yards down the left sideline. UNC's Jessica McDonald eschewed the chance to heave the ball into the box and instead she saw Nogueira unmarked about 30 yards away from the goal. Nogueira took McDonald's throw in, dribbled a couple of times and with the Maryland defense playing inside the 18-yard box, she was able to find the time and space to place a booming 25-yard kick past Casey into the right side of the frame.

It was Nogueira's ninth goal of the season and her fourth game-winning goal of the campaign.

Carolina now advances to the NCAA quarterfinals for the 26th time in the 28-year history of the Tournament. UNC is 24-0-1 in its previous 25 appearances in the quarterfinals. The only mar on that record came in 2005 when UNC and Florida State battled to a 1-1 tie at Fetzer Field and the Seminoles advanced to the semifinals on penalty kicks, 5-4.