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No. 22 Virginia women’s soccer suffers first loss against top-ranked North Carolina

The match continues a pattern of disappointing home games for the Cavaliers

<p>The Cavaliers will need to generate more offense to prove themselves as true contenders in the conference and at large.&nbsp;</p>

The Cavaliers will need to generate more offense to prove themselves as true contenders in the conference and at large. 

No. 22 Virginia women’s soccer held its own but came up short in a 1-0 loss Thursday night against No. 1 North Carolina. The Cavaliers (5-1-3, 0-1-1 ACC) commanded possession in the first half, while the Tar Heels (7-0-3, 2-0-0 ACC) outdid their opponents in shots and shots on goal in the second half. In the 55th minute, sophomore forward Ally Sentnor sent a shot just right of graduate student goalkeeper Cayla White for the winning goal. 

The “orange out” brought excitement to Klöckner stadium with the first 500 fans receiving a free orange women’s soccer shirt. 2674 fans attended the game, nearly 1000 more than any other home game this season.

In the first 10 minutes, North Carolina worked the ball in Virginia’s half but only connected for one shot. Soon after, sophomore forward Merideth McDermott played a pass into the Tar Heels’ box to freshman forward Allie Ross, who struck a shot low and off the far post. However, the play was called for offsides.

Possession swayed in favor of the Cavaliers once sophomore midfielder Jill Flammia subbed on. After poking the ball away from multiple North Carolina midfielders, Flammia played a pass into McDermott, but the ball slipped past her reach. 

Despite maintaining possession less than Virginia, North Carolina made several quality attacks. The duo of Sentnor and junior forward Emily Colton punished Virginia defenders all night. In the 22nd minute, Colton worked the ball up to Virginia’s box for a shot, which was deflected into White’s arms.

One of the best opportunities for Virginia came in the 34th minute when freshman midfielder Yuna McCormack dribbled the ball from around midfield to just outside the North Carolina box. She fired a bullet that was just tipped left by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Emmie Allen. The following corner kick by sophomore forward Maggie Cagle was headed out of bounds.

The first half ended in excitement. Flammia played a wonderful pass into senior forward Sarah Brunner, who put a cross into the box for junior forward Degen Miller. North Carolina defenders quickly converged on Miller, who took a shot just high of goal.

Virginia entered the second half outdoing North Carolina 5-4 in shots and 3-0 in corner kicks. 

North Carolina’s offensive pressure increased in the second half. In the 49th minute, White was forced to sprint out of the box to meet a pass. Sliding, she was able to get the ball back to midfield. 

Minutes later, Sentnor scored the game's only goal after driving up the left side of the box, an area she owned throughout the match. The score was her third goal of the season and extended North Carolina’s streak of seven straight games with a goal. 

Flammia attacked the Tar Heels’ defense right after the goal. Driving up the middle of the field, she fired a shot outside of the box, just several feet right of the goal. 

Several of these Virginia attacks were stymied by an impressive group of North Carolina defenders. In particular, freshman defender Savy King frustrated Virginia forwards. In the 79th minute, Cagle ran after a deep pass into North Carolina’s half only to see King come from behind her to clear the ball away.

In the last few minutes, Virginia had several opportunities to walk away with a draw. After a run up the left wing, Cagle fired a shot into Allen’s arms. Minutes later, a cross into the box caught Allen off guard — who was out of position at the time — but found no touch from a Cavalier as the ball trickled away. A unison groan echoed from Klöckner’s bleachers.

Thursday night’s game follows a trend of disappointing home games against Power Five opponents for the Cavaliers. Earlier this season, Virginia failed to score against Michigan and Iowa despite home-field advantage. The struggling offense has just one goal in its last three games, a recurring theme that has dropped Virginia’s national ranking from fifth to 22nd. 

Winless in their first two ACC games, the Cavaliers look to get the offense going in an away contest against Wake Forest, who have conceded just six goals in eight matches. The match will be broadcast on ACCNX.

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