Dunnís Goal The Difference As Heels Blank Boston College
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Crystal Dunn's goal on a header in the 40th minute lifted third-seeded North Carolina to a 1-0 victory over sixth-seeded Boston College Sunday afternoon in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals at Fetzer Field.
Both teams had excellent offensive chances in the game but the goalkeepers for both teams ended with career highs for saves in a game to keep the game a low-scoring affair. In the end, UNC was able to convert the one chance that mattered to improve to 17-3 on the season. Boston College falls to 10-9-1 at the end of the regular season but the Eagles are expected to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament even with the loss.
It was exactly three years to the day since the Tar Heels had won an ACC Tournament game. The victory propels Carolina into the ACC semifinals next Friday at 8 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The Tar Heels will meet second-seeded Florida State, which eliminated seventh-seeded Duke 2-0 Sunday afternoon. Earlier in the year, the Seminoles defeated Carolina 1-0 in Tallahassee, Fla.
Carolina, ranked fourth nationally, has won 20 of the previous 25 ACC Tournaments but had not won a game in tournament play since beating Virginia Tech 4-2 in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on November 3, 2010 in Cary.
Carolina outshot the Eagles 21-8 on Sunday and had a 10-2 edge in corner kicks. BC goalkeeper Alex Johnson made a career-high 10 saves for the Eagles while Carolina goalkeeper Anna Sieloff matched her career high with five saves. She previously had five saves in a match versus Stanford on August 27, 2010.
Both goalkeepers needed to play well as the Tar Heels applied constant pressure on the BC goal and in their attacking third and the Eagles found their best chances on counterattacks and via set pieces. UNC was called for 15 fouls in the game and they led to several dangerous looks for the Eagles.
But in the end the only play that mattered was Dunn's 13th goal of the season. UNC earned a corner kick in the 40th minute and Alexa Newfield's well-placed ball from the right side found the head of Megan Brigman at the far post. Brigman's shot went off the cross bar but Dunn was unmarked just a yard away from the goal line and the 5-2 midfielder headed it just far enough over the line to break the plane before Johnson gobbled it up. The goal came at 39:10 of the match.
There were three other balls that found the back of the net in the opening period but Carolina was called offside on two chances and BC was called for a foul in the box on a potential own goal that would have tied the game in the closing minutes of the half.
Amongst Johnson's 10 saves was a kick save on a penalty kick try by Summer Green in the 18th minute after BC defender Lauren Bernard had taken down Katie Bowen in the penalty area. In the 33rd minute, Kealia Ohai had a shot knocked down by Johnson from close range and Dunn sent the rebound just wide right of the goal. Sieloff had a pair of saves in the first half on shots where BC defenders had gotten just enough space against UNC defenders to make the home fans at Fetzer Field nervous.
Carolina came out on fire in the second half and almost put the game away in the first five minutes of the second frame. But Johnson continued to deny the Tar Heels, making a tremendous two-handed save on a shot by Green at 46:06, knocking the ball over the end line for a corner kick. She also had saves on shots by Dunn and Brooke Elby just a minute apart shortly thereafter.
Both teams kept the pressure on each other's defenses until the very end. BC's best chance at the tying tally came at 84:49 when Sieloff had to stop a shot by Kate McCarthy set up by a free kick in the attacking third. That came shortly after Sieloff had made a diving save on a header by Hayley Dowd at the 82:19 mark of the match.
This game continued the trend of close fought games between the two teams. Although UNC has a 15-1 edge in the series (11-1 since BC joined the ACC), nine of the last 10 games between the two teams have been decided by a single goal, with Carolina prevailing in eight of those nine. Each of the last four games in the series have been decided by 1-0 margins in favor of the Tar Heels, including the regular-season meeting at Newton, Mass., three weeks ago today.
Carolina improved to 59-2-4 in tournament play with the victory.
All four top seeds advanced in ACC quarterfinal play on Sunday. The ACC semifinals, which will be televised on ESPN3 on Friday, will feature four of the top five teams in the nation in this week's NSCAA coaches' poll.
FRIDAY'S ACC TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL SCHEDULE
WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, N.C.
No. 1 seed Virginia vs. No. 4 seed Virginia Tech, 5:30 p.m.
No. 2 seed Florida State vs. No. 3 seed North Carolina, 8 p.m.
National Rankings: 1. Virginia; 3. Florida State; 4. North Carolina; 5. Virginia Tech
ACC Tournament Quarterfinal Scores from Sunday
Virginia 6, Maryland 1
Florida State 2, Duke 0
North Carolina 1, Boston College 0Virginia Tech 2, Notre Dame 1 (2OT)