Anson Dorrance wins 750th match as Heels crush Va. Tech
Top-ranked North Carolina got goals from Paige Nielsen and Kealia Ohai to ease past 22nd-ranked Virginia Tech 2-1 Thursday night before 1,406 fans at Thompson Field.
Carolina opens its ACC season with the victory and improves to 7-0 overall heading into a 1 p.m. matchup Sunday against #8 Notre Dame at Fetzer Field. Virginia Tech fell to 5-1-1 on the season and 0-1 in the ACC.
The victory was the 750th of UNC head coach Anson Dorrance’s coaching career as he improved to 750-49-29 in 35 seasons at the helm.
Carolina got a first half goal by Paige Nielsen and a second half goal by Kealia Ohai and held off a late Virginia Tech rally to preserve the win. Jazmine Reeves scored off a corner kick for the Hokies in the 87th minute and then UNC goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin made a save on a header in the box by Murielle Tiernan with just 18 seconds left in the game.
The Tar Heels outshot the Hokies 8-4 in the first half and took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at intermission. Dayle Colpitts had four first half saves for the Hokies, stopping a pair of shots by Crystal Dunn and one each by Cameron Castleberry and Kealia Ohai.
The Hokies had two good early chances to score in the first half before the Tar Heels began to take a possession advatage late in the half and eventually got a goal by forward Paige Nielsen in the 35th minute. After Colpitts saved a shot by Dunn at 32:15, Virginia Tech almost scored a little less than two minutes later on a bicycle kick by Ashley Meier that went high.
With 25:53 left in the half, the Tar Heel defensive back line came up big as it blocked shots by Jazmine Reeves and Meier in the penalty area, keeping the game tied at 0-0. Colpitts made saves on shots by Dunn at 20:46 and by Kealia Ohai at 14:12 before Nielsen put the Tar Heels ahead 1-0 with 10:40 left in the first half.
Nielsen picked up a loose ball at the top of the 18-yard box, dribbled to her right and found some space. Nielsen sent a 15-yard arcing shot to the far post that curled over Colpitts into the upper left 90. It was the Nebraska sophomore’s third goal of the season.
Virginia Tech had the run of play in the early moments of the second half before the Tar Heels struck with 30:28 to play against the run of play. Ohai fed a ball to Crystal Dunn who carried into the top of the box before returning it to Ohai on the right side of the penalty area. The Utah native deked a defender and then buried a shot from 10 yards out to the far post for a 2-0 lead.
Carolina twice almost pushed the lead to three goals only to have Dayle Colpitts make tremendous saves. She stopped Amber Munerlyn on the doorstep with 27:09 to play and then she made a critical save on a bullet of a shot by Ohai with 10 minutes left.
Virginia Tech would persevere, making things uncomfortable for UNC at the end. Reeves scored her fourth goal of the season with 3:48 to play after a scramble in the goal mouth off a corner kick. The Hokies had another corner kick with 42 seconds left and eventually got the header in the box by Tiernan. But Heaberlin held her line, making the save and earning the Tar Heels the win.
UNC outshot the Hokies 14-7 and had edge in corner kicks 11-5. Colpitts had a season-high seven saves for Virginia Tech.