#5 Tar Heels Blank Tigers Behind Scores by Green & Ohai
Carolina solidified its hold on fourth place in the ACC standings heading into the final two games of the season Sunday at Wake Forest and next Thursday at home versus Duke.
Senior midfielder Crystal Dunn returned from the U.S. National Team after missing last Sunday's match versus top-ranked Virginia and assisted on both Carolina goals as UNC improved to 14-3 overall and 8-3 in the ACC. Clemson, vastly improved over last year when it won only one ACC match, is now 7-6-4 overall and 4-5-2 in the ACC.
The Tar Heels got on the scoreboard early, thanks to a nifty goal by Summer Green at the 6:24 mark. Amber Munerlyn replaced Vicky Bruce in the lineup for the Tar Heels and her presence on the field was a key to the first goal as Carolina scored just 19 seconds later. The Tar Heels delivered the score after a throw in leading to the substitution. Dunn flicked a pass to Munerlyn in the right side of the box. The freshman delivered a perfect entry pass to Green who ran on to it at the six-yard line and deftly finished into the lower right side of the goal for a 1-0 lead. It was Green's sixth goal of the season.
The Tar Heels would end up with seven shots in the first half but could not get a second goal past Clemson goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Emily Bruder had the best opportunity for the Tar Heels but her shot from the left side of the box that was heading inside the near post was knocked away at the last second by Sheridan for a corner kick.
In the early minutes of the second half, Clemson was flighting balls over the Tar Heel defense, creating some dangerous situations for the Tar Heel defense. But Carolina played a bend-but-not-break style while continuing to push forward in search of a game-clinching goal.
Sheridan made seven second-half saves for the Tigers and Bryane Heaberlin, who played the second 45 minutes in goal for UNC, made a pair of key saves to keep the Tar Heels on top.
At 56:58, Paige Reckert had a breakaway opportunity for the Tigers but Heaberlin smothered her shot from 10 yards out to maintain the 1-0 Carolina advantage. The Tigers had another opportunity at the 66:40 mark when the Tar Heels committed a foul just outside the penalty box. But Vanessa Laxgang's free kick just missed to the right side and the Tar Heels dodged a second bullet.
From then on, UNC took control of possession and the game in general. UNC almost made it 2-0 on a Kelly McFarlane header off a corner kick in the 70th minute only to see Sheridan make a diving save. UNC then got the game-clinching goal from Kealia Ohai in the 79th minute, less than two minutes after she reentered the game.
Dunn set up the goal with a run into the right side of the box. She centered the ball to Ohai who redirected the ball past Sheridan into the lower right of the frame from just six yards out in front. It was Ohai's seventh goal of the campaign.
UNC had several more opportunities to punch in a third goal but Sheridan came up with some more big saves and Dunn's shot at 85:52 was saved off the line by a Clemson defender. Heaberlin also had to make a big save on a shot by Laxgang at 88:16 to preserve the shutout for Carolina.
UNC has now posted 10 shutouts on the season in 17 matches and it has posted six shutouts in 11 ACC games.
UNC outshot the Tigers 22-7 in the match and had an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks.
The Tar Heels return to the pitch on Sunday when they travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. to meet 22nd-ranked Wake Forest (10-4-2, ACC 5-4-2). Carolina is seeking its first win over the Demon Deacons since the 2010 season.
Updated ACC Standings Through Thursday's Games
Virginia, 33 Points; Florida State, 29 Points; Virginia Tech, 25 Points; North Carolina, 24 Points; Notre Dame, 19 Points; Wake Forest, 17 Points; Duke 15 Points; Maryland, 15 Points; Clemson, 14 Points; Boston College, 13 Points; Syracuse, 10 Points; Miami, 10 Points; NC State, 3 Points; Pittsburgh, 0 Points.