Aug. 29, 2006
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Chapel Hill native Sterling Smith scored the first goal of her career Tuesday night to lift ninth-ranked North Carolina to a 1-0 women's soccer victory over UNC Greensboro before 2,387 fans at Fetzer Field. With the win the Tar Heels captured their home opener for the 21st successive year.
"I'm excited we gutted out the win," said UNC head coach Anson Dorrance, whose Tar Heels improved to 2-1 on the season. "Our freshmen are outstanding and they are getting better. We have our positions in the lineup figured out but we need to get everybody back from their National Team commitments and the injuries we are working through."
North Carolina was playing its third match in five days after playing Friday at Texas A&M and Sunday at SMU. "We are strung out physically. We were very fatigued today," said Dorrance, whose team travels this weekend to play a pair of nationally-ranked teams in the East Coast Invitational at New Haven, Conn.
"We knew our freshmen were going to have to step up and play well and it was great for Chapel Hill native Sterling Smith to get the game-winning goal in her home debut."
The first half was a midfield battle between the two teams although the Tar Heels did outshoot the Spartans 10-1 in the first half. The best scoring opportunity of the half came at 32:56 when a nifty combination of passes freed UNC junior Katie Brooks in the box. Brooks went far post from about 15 yards out on the left but UNC Greensboro's Katherine Ryan reached out to pluck the ball from the air.
Carolina broke through to score the game's only goal at 58:37. Jessica Maxwell won a battle about 15 yards from the midfield stripe and spotted Heather O'Reilly all alone streaking down the left wing. Maxwell's pass found the foot of O'Reilly in stride and the U.S. National Team striker then fed a perfect pass into the middle of the box that Smith ran on to for a header into the back of the goal from the six-yard line.
Both teams had several more shot opportunities but nothing found the back of the net as the two teams combined for only seven shots on goal among the 28 shots in the game.
UNC outshot the Spartans 22-6 and had four corner kicks to three for UNG. Carolina's Anna Rodenbough recorded her second successive solo shutout and had one save. Katherine Ryan finished with five saves for UNCG.
The Tar Heels will return to action with two more games this weekend at the East Coast Invitational at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. In games Friday at Reese Stadium, Duke plays Yale at 4 p.m. and UNC meets Connecticut at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, the Tar Heels battle Yale at 11:30 a.m. and UConn meets Duke at 2 p.m. All four teams in the field are nationally-ranked.
UNC is ranked No. 4 this week by the NSCAA, No. 7 by Soccer Times, No. 8 by Soccer Buzz and No. 9 by Soccer America.
Sterling Smith receives congratulations from Heather O'Reilly and Yael Averbuch after scoring her first career goal.