No. 6 Carolina Bounces Back to Beat No. 3 Aggies
Sept. 7, 2007
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Reserve strikers Meghan Klingenberg and Sterling Smith came off the bench to deliver goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half and those goals stood up as the No. 6 North Carolina women's soccer team defeated No. 3 Texas A&M 2-1 Friday night before the ninth largest crowd in Fetzer Field history in second game of the Carolina Nike Classic.
Just six days after dropping its season opener for only the third time in history and its first home opener ever, Carolina looked much more like its defending NCAA championship team of a year ago as it outshot the Aggies 12-3 and had an edge in corner kicks 7-1 in winning a tense battle. A year ago, the Aggies beat the Tar Heels 1-0 in the season opener at College Station, Texas on an overtime goal and Carolina rebounded later that season to beat A&M 3-2 in the NCAA quarterfinals before a crowd of 4,487 at Fetzer Field, then the ninth largest crowd in Fetzer history.
Friday's enthusiastic and packed crowd of 4,495 topped that mark as a couple of thousands UNC students helped pack Fetzer's grandstand from one end to the other. The home field advantage seemed to buoy UNC's spirits in the first half as Carolina came out and attacked the goal in a way it did not in last Saturday's 1-0 loss to South Carolina.
Eventually the Heels broke through at 35:42 on the first career goal by freshman Meghan Klingenberg. After an offside call on the Aggies, Ariel Harris sent a long ball into the offensive end which Yael Averbuch flicked on with the back of her head. Klingenberg beat the Aggies' back line to the ball and found herself one-on-one with A&M keeper Kristin Arnold. The freshman composed herself and then rocketed the ball into the upper left 90 off Arnold's hands to make the score 1-0. Both Averbuch and Harris assisted on the goal.
An opportunistic play by a pair of Tar Heel reserves just a few minutes later gave the Tar Heels a 2-0 cushion. Mandy Moraca broke free down the right side and then struck a ball far post which Arnold dove and was able to knock down. But the ball squirted free in the box and Sterling Smith ran on to the rebound and finished into the lower left of the frame to boost the lead to two goals at 40:14.
Texas A&M All-America Ashlee Postorious was the most dangerous player for the Aggies all night, getting both of A&M's first half shots. She scored on her third shot after taking a nifty feed from Amber Gnatzig in the midfield who had time and space to find Pistorious on the left wing. Pistorious dribbled into the left side of the box and then sent a well placed shot far post from 18 yards that was virtually unsaveable by any goalkeeper.
The rest of the game was a battle of attrition in the midfeld between the two teams. Both teams created dangerous chances to score by neither team dented the scoreboard again as there were only five shots and one corner kick combined in the second 45 minutes. Many potential scoring chances for derailed at the point of the attack by defenders or the two goalkeepers before shots could be taken.
This marked the second straight year the Tar Heels hosted a team ranked higher than themselves at Fetzer Field and only the third time that has happened since 1990. Florida State came to Fetzer ranked No. 1 in the Soccer America poll last year on September 21, 2006 and Heather O'Reilly's two goals boosted UNC to a 2-1 victory. Prior to that Carolina had not played a home game against a higher ranked team since 1990 against Virginia, a 3-0 UNC win on October 20, 1990.
A year ago, after the Heels lost the season opener at A&M, Carolina went on to run off 27 straight wins en route to its 19th national collegiate championship.
Texas A&M was ranked No. 3 by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, No. 4 by Soccer America and No. 2 by Soccer Buzz this week. UNC was ranked No. 6 by the NSCAA and Soccer America and No. 3 by Soccer Buzz.
The Nike Carolina Classic continues Sunday with Texas A&M meeting Duke at 11 a.m. and UNC meeting Yale at 1 p.m. at Fetzer Field. Duke defeated Yale 1-0 in the first game Friday night.