Women's soccer: No. 16 UNC blanks No. 7 Virginia in ACC quarterfinals
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – For the second time in four days the University of North Carolina women’s soccer team knocked off a top 10-ranked team in shutout fashion as the Tar Heels beat No. 7 Virginia Sunday afternoon 3-0 at Fetzer Field in the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
Goals by Madison Schultz, Sarah Ashley Firstenberg and Morgan Goff were the difference in the game as the Tar Heels (12-3-3) earned their first ACC Tournament win since the 2013 quarterfinal round and its first win over Virginia since 2010. The Cavaliers fell to 13-4-2 with the loss.
UNC scored twice in the first half on defensive hustle plays. Freshman Madison Schultz, who scored her first career goal in UNC’s win last Thursday over No. 8 Florida State, stole the ball from Virginia goalkeeper Morgan Stearns in the penalty box. Stearns had received a back pass from a Virginia defender but Schultz put her under pressure, causing the turnover and then shooting around Stearns into the lower left side of the goal from 12 yards.
Just over six minutes later, another hustle play by a Tar Heel forward results in the second goal of the game with just 17 seconds left before halftime. Sarah Ashley Firstenberg jumped on a ball near midfield after a misplay by Virginia and dribbled down the left side for 45 yards into the penalty area before she finished skillfully from 15 yards out into the right side netting. Like Schultz’s tally, it was Firstenberg’s second goal of the season. Firstenberg’s other goal this season was the game-winning tally in the Tar Heels’ season-opening 2-0 win over UCF on August 19.
The two goals marked a huge shift in momentum in the match. In the 33rd minute, Virginia’s Alexis Shaffer had a free kick from 20 yards out and she sent her looping shot over the Tar Heel wall. It appeared to be headed to the back of the net but it bounded off the crossbar and a follow up header by Zoe Morse was saved by UNC goalkeeper Lindsey Harris.
In the second half, Shaffer had two more good looks for Virginia with both shots sailing wide. Just less than six minutes later, UNC scored the game-clinching goal off a corner kick by Dorian Bailey. Morgan Goff headed on Bailey’s corner at the near post and the shot glanced off a Cavalier defender. Stearns gathered the ball in at the left post but she was already standing over the goal line when she caught it. It was the first goal of Goff’s career.
UNC and Virginia both took seven shots in the game. UNC had the only three corner kicks. Harris had three saves for the Tar Heels while compiling the clean sheet.
The No. 16 Tar Heels, No. 4 seeds in the tournament, advance to the semifinals of the event where they will play top-seeded Notre Dame (13-2-4) next Friday at 5:30 p.m. at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The Fighting Irish, ranked 12th nationally, won their quarterfinal game Sunday 1-0 over NC State. The second semifinal game next Friday features No. 6 seed Florida State against No. 2 seed Clemson at 8 p.m. Florida State advanced past No. 3 seed Duke on penalty kicks (3-2) after the teams battled to a 1-1 tie. No. 2 seed Clemson advanced past No. 7 seed Miami on penalty kicks 5-4 after another 1-1 tie.