Crystal Dunn's return spurs UNC women's soccer advance
As her collegiate career comes to a close, Crystal Dunn added another example of why she may go down as one of the best ever to play at North Carolina.
Limited to 31 minutes because of a hamstring injury that caused her to miss the previous two games, Dunn scored the first goal and assisted on the second as the Tar Heels defeated Indiana 4-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Friday at Fetzer Field.
UNC (19-4), a No. 1 regional seed and the No. 4 overall seed, will face No. 4 regional seed Texas A&M (18-4-2) in the third round at Fetzer Field Sunday at 1 p.m. The Aggies beat Texas Tech in penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie earlier on Friday.
Dunn, the three-time ACC player of the year, isn’t yet 100 percent and was expected to be more of a distributor in the central midfielder on Friday. But less than four minutes after entering the game with 11:01 left in the first half, she one-touched a pass from Cameron Castleberry for her 14th goal of the season.
“I thought we put together a good first half there, with a couple of chances of our own,” Indiana coach Amy Berbary said. “When she came in, the special player that she is, she made it count.”
Dunn then set up freshman Amber Munerlyn to put the Tar Heels up 2-0 4:06 into the second half.
“Obviously this is one of the all-time greats in the collegiate game,” Tar Heels coach Anson Dorrance said. “And even though we’re not going to put pressure on her to be the Crystal Dunn of 100 percent pre-injury, just to have her back playing was good.”
Kealia Ohai added her third goal in two NCAA Tournament games in the 80th minute, and Paige Nelson deflected a cross from Satara Murray in the 86th minute to complete the scoring.
Indiana (15-7-1) was outshot 23-2 in its first NCAA Tournament appearance in six years. The team that set school records for wins and goals scored (43) didn’t record a shot on goal as UNC posted its 14th shutout of the season.
The Tar Heels continued their streak of having won at least two games in the NCAA Tournament every year since its inception. The defending champions have won 21 of the previous 31 titles and ran their NCAA record to 117-8-3.
“It’s so difficult to consistently win and I love it when our kids play well and can win in this event,” Dorrance said. “It’s a tribute to how hard they work and also what extraordinary pressure they’re under. … For these kids to try to defend this legacy, which I’m sure is stressful, and to do it successfully — I’m unbelievably proud of them.”