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ND Women’s Soccer

Irish upset bid falters in 2nd half, fall to Tar Heels 3-0

| Monday, November 4, 2019

The eighth-seeded Irish came into Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for the ACC Tournament quarterfinals needing a stellar defensive effort and an opportunistic offense to earn the upset. For the first half, Notre Dame followed the blueprint, possessing the ball minimally but gifting the Tar Heels very few chances. But after the break, the top-seeded home team came out firing on all cylinders, finishing off three opportunities to end the Irish upset bid.

North Carolina, ranked third in the country, outshot the Irish 15-4, including seven on-goal efforts. Senior keeper Brooke Littman had four saves to keep the Irish close, but a lack of offensive opportunities doomed Notre Dame. Midfielders junior Sammi Fisher and graduate student Shannon Hendricks gave the Irish their only on-target shots, but Tar Heels sophomore keeper Claudia Dickey saved both to preserve the shutout.

Allison Thornton | The Observer

Irish junior midfielder Sammi Fisher dribbles with the ball during Notre Dame’s 3-2 loss against Iowa on Sept. 15 at Alumni Stadium.

The first half was largely dominated by the Tar Heels, but the hosts struggled to put shots on frame to challenge Littman, partly because the Irish started five defenders.

North Carolina earned two corner kicks in the first 11 minutes; they won headers off of both set pieces but directed their efforts just off-frame, with one sailing over the crossbar and the other sliding just outside the left post.

Shortly after the second corner kick, Notre Dame would generate their best chance of the half, but Sammi Fisher’s effort was denied by Dickey.

The Tar Heels came storming back, but junior forward Alessia Russo’s blast rocketed over the crossbar. After the early flurry of chances, the game settled into a midfield slog, with the Tar Heels largely keeping possession but unable to create quality chances.

With just under twelve minutes to go in the half, junior defender Emily Fox delivered North Carolina’s lone shot on goal of the half, but Littman came up with the save. North Carolina earned two more corner kicks in the final few minutes of the half, but neither produced an on-target look and the game went to halftime scoreless. 

The second half opened with more of the same, as the Tar Heels dominated in possession, but unlike in the opening 45 minutes, North Carolina quickly generated a strong chance and capitalized.

Tar Heels sophomore midfielder Brianna Pinto had her shot blocked by a Notre Dame defender in the first few minutes, but just minutes later, North Carolina would strike, as Pinto touched the ball to Fox, who dished it junior defender Lotte Wubben-Moy; Wubben-Moy’s strike from distance eluded Littman and gave the Tar Heels the early advantage.

Already struggling to create chances, Notre Dame’s deficit loomed large. They managed a corner kick and shot that was saved by Dickey.

Soon after, the Tar Heels doubled the lead. Freshman defender Maycee Bell flicked a corner kick into the box, and redshirt senior forward Ru Mucherera finished for a 2-0 advantage.

The Irish continued to struggle offensively, and the Tar Heels would eventually ice the game, as Wubben-Moy earned a penalty kick in the 85th minute and calmly put it away to deliver North Carolina to the ACC semifinals. The Irish dropped to 10-7-2 overall and 4-4-2 in conference play and will wait to see if their resume can earn an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, which will be announced Monday afternoon.

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