CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – It was a historic night at Fetzer Field Sunday as goals by Ru Mucherera and Dorian Bailey rallied the No. 15 North Carolina women’s soccer team past Wake Forest 2-1 and in the process presented UNC head coach Anson Dorrance with his 800th career win as an NCAA Division I women’s soccer coach.
Even in the pregame it was sure to be a historic night all-around as the game marked the 900th contest in the program’s tenure dating back to the 1979 season. Dorrance has coached UNC in all 900 of those games, and the win over the Demon Deacons gives him a career record of 800 victories, 65 losses and 35 draws. Dorrance also coached the UNC men’s soccer team from 1977 through 1988 and in those 12 seasons led the Tar Heels to 172 wins. Dorrance is now just 28 wins shy of 1,000 all-time coaching wins as a head coach on the Division I level.
CONGRATULATIONS ANSON pic.twitter.com/74lkQrzELf— UNC Women's Soccer (@ncwomenssoccer) October 9, 2016
Sunday’s victory was not an easy one for Carolina, however, as Wake Forest brought its skilled possession game to Chapel Hill and outplayed the Tar Heels for much of the first half. In fact, the Demon Deacons had seven shot in the first half, four of them on goal, while the Tar Heels took just four shots in the opening 45 minutes.
But the half ended in a 1-1 tie after a pair of nifty goals. Wake went ahead at 29:51 on a goal by Peyton Perea, her fifth of the season, assisted by Claudia Day. Sarah Medina sent a cross from the far right corner to Day who was two yards off the line in the center of the goal. She poked the ball to the far post where Tar Heel goalkeeper Lindsey Harris barely kept it from going over the line. However, Perea was johnny-on-the-spot and banged the rebound into the back of the net to put the Deacs up a goal.
Carolina was able to respond before halftime despite having a lineup of primarily substitutes on the field. Three forwards who had came on in the middle of the half combined on the goal at the 35:14 juncture. After a Wake turnover about 40 yards outside of its goal, Kasey Parker captured possession and touched the ball back to Sarah Ashley Firstenberg who sent a pass over the left side of the Demon Deacon back line which Ru Mucherera received in stride. Bursting past the last defenders, she finished with her left foot from 15 yards out inside the right post, beating Deacon goalkeeper Lindsay Preston. It was the first career goal for Mucherera while Parker recorded the fourth assist of her freshman year, all in the last five games.
Wake put a lot of pressure on the Tar Heel goal for a five-minute span late in the half before the Tar Heels righted the ship and held possession for the final five minutes of the half. Firstenberg’s shot from the top of the box just missed sneaking inside the right post with 13 seconds left in the half.
Carolina came out of the locker room and dominated the second half. The Tar Heels outshot the Demon Deacons 7-1 in the second half with the only Wake attempt coming in the 71st minute by Sarah Teegarden.
By then UNC had taken the lead at 2-1 at the 68:46 mark. UNC freshman striker Madison Schultzwas taken down just two yards outside of the penalty box in the center of the field. In the process, Teegarden picked up a yellow card.
Sophomore Dorian Bailey took the free kick and sent it off the inside of the left post. The ball caromed across the frame into the right side setting to give the Tar Heels the lead. The goal was Bailey’s second of the season. She scored her first goal of the campaign in last Thursday night’s 3-1 win over Miami.
Carolina finished with an 11-8 edge in shots (5-4 on goal) and a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks. Both Harris for Carolina and Preston for Wake Forest made three saves.
With the win, UNC improved to 8-2-3 overall on the season and 3-1-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Demon Deacons are now 8-6 overall and 0-6 in the ACC. Carolina has won four straight games in the series against Wake Forest and is now 29-2-2 all-time against the Deacs.
UNC is now 3-0-2 in its past five games since dropping back-to-back games against USC and NC State on September 11 and September 16. The Tar Heels have conceded first in their last three games but came back to tie Virginia and defeat Miami and Wake Forest.