Tar Heel Women's Soccer Team Loses First Home Opener in History
Sept. 1, 2007
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The North Carolina women's soccer team lost its first ever home opener in the 29-year history of the program as South Carolina upset the top-ranked Tar Heels 1-0 before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,099 fans at Fetzer Field. This is the second successive year that the defending NCAA champion Tar Heels have dropped their season opener as Carolina last year lost at Texas A&M in overtime 1-0.
Both teams' defenses were magnificent as South Carolina was rock solid in the back and goalkeeper Lindsay Thorstenson made five saves. The Tar Heels limited the Gamecocks to only three shots but the only one in the game that mattered was USC's second shot in the 16th minute which found the back of the net.
UNC now falls to 27-1-1 in home season openers. The only previous non-win in a home opener was September 1, 1985 when the Tar Heels and George Mason played to a 3-3 tie at Fetzer. Carolina is now 26-3 in season openers, having lost at Texas A&M in overtime in 2006 and at Connecticut in 1983 in addition to Saturday's game. It was only the 10th home loss for Carolina in history as the Tar Heels fell to 263-10-5 in home games all-time. The last home loss was on October 9, 2005, a 2-1 setback against Duke. Saturday's loss halted an 11-match home winning streak and a 27-match winning streak overall for Carolina.
Carolina had two golden opportunities to score in the opening minutes but could not convert on either one. At 6:43, freshman Rachel Givan got free in the right side of the box one-on-one with Thorstenson but her shot pinged off the right post. At 12:11, sophomore Whitney Engen received a pass in the center of the box at the 12-yard line but her point blank shot was saved by the USC keeper.
The Gamecocks took full advantage and attacked offensively in the counter attack. Darcel Mollon sailed a shot wide at 14:42 but just 38 seconds later South Carolina scored when Samantha DiazMatosas sent a long arcing cross from the right side to the far post where Erin Sullivan ran on to the ball and headed it past UNC keeper Anna Rodenbough.
The goal by USC in the 16th minute would hold up the rest of the match. UNC outshot the Gamecocks 10-1 the rest of the way but Carolina could not finish their opportunities and had trouble getting through the constant presence of multiple Gamecocks defending in their box area.
At 31:44 of the first half Casey Nogueira almost tied the match with another one-on-one look against Thorstenson but Nogueira's blistering shot clanged off the right post.
The Tar Heels outshot the Gamecocks 7-1 in the second half and had nine second-half corner kicks but could not find the frame of the goal off those opportunities. UNC finished with 13 corner kicks overall while the Gamecocks had none.
The last shot of the game by USC came at 48:55 when Kim Miller sent a shot high over the cross bar. Carolina had the last seven shots after that. At 54:06, Nogueira had a header in the box that skimmed wide to the left. Tobin Heath had a shot blocked at 64:32 that almost found it way into the net before going just wide right. The best opportunity for the tie came at 65:03 when after a scramble in the box Yael Averbuch had a shot at the open goal from the seven-yard line but her bullet was blocked away by the Gamecock defense.
Carolina must bounced back quickly as it faces 2006 NCAA quarterfinalist Texas A&M Friday at 7 p.m. at Fetzer Field in the Nike Carolina Classic. The Aggies split games with the Tar Heels last season with A&M winning 1-0 in College Station, Texas in the season opener and the Tar Heels bouncing back with a 3-2 win over the Aggies in the NCAA quarterfinals at Fetzer Field.
The complete Nike Carolina Classic schedule next weekend has Duke meeting Yale at 5 p.m. Friday followed by UNC versus Texas A&M at 7 p.m. On Sunday, Texas A&M meets Duke at 11 a.m. followed by Yale versus Carolina at 1 p.m.