Chapel Hill, N.C. --- The defending national champion and No. 1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels needed a pair of second half goals as the Heels came back from a halftime deficit to defeat the upset-minded Lobos 2-1 at Fetzer Field.
Carolina entered the game 30-1-3 in home openers, but it was the Lobos who led for the majority of the match. Sophomore Dylann O’Connor ended UNC’s season opening shutout streak when she stripped a Tar Heel defender of the ball at the 18 and fired a quick shot into the far corner past a helpless Anna Sieloff. The Lobos played well through the opening half, and any scoring opportunity was limited to long-range and easily stopped by Cassie Ulrich, who continues to be a revelation in net.
In the second half, the Tar Heels, who have won 21 out of the 31 NCAA College Cups that have been played, applying constant pressure on the Lobo net, and Ulrich and her defensive backs kept them out as long as possible.
Ulrich had a diving stop just four minutes into the half, and then forced a high shot on a header that hit the crossbar. The Tar Heels are ranked No. 1 for a reason however, and Hermann candidate Crystal Dunn took a pass off a throw-in and hit a rocket just out of the reach of Ulrich but just inside the post, tying the match 13 minutes into the second half.
The winner also came off a set piece, this a corner kick. Katie Bowen hit a corner to the back post, which was headed by Hanna Gardner right to Caroline Lundquist. Her one-touch volley found the upper corner with 22:42 left in the game.
UNM eventually put some pressure on the Heels, floating a cross and a free kick into the box, but Bryane Heaberlin, who came in at the half in net, twice plucked those crosses out of the air with Lobos sitting at the backpost.
Ulrich then kept it 2-1 with just minutes on the clock when Dunn broke free at the 18 with 2:32 to go. Dunn’s blast was labels for the lower corner, but Ulrich somehow got a mitt on it to keep the Lobos in it.
The loss dropped the Lobos to 1-2-0 on the season, while North Carolina improved to 3-0-0. The Lobos take on 2-1-0 No. 12 Duke on Sunday at 10 a.m. Mountain Time. Duke beat Kennesaw State 1-0 in the game prior.
NOTES: The game was the first-ever for the program against the No. 1 team in the country. UNM twice lost to UCLA when it was No. 2 … the Lobos are now 60-6-5 when leading at the half under Vela, and 98-14-11 when scoring first … Ulrich in her first season as a starter has a goal against average of 0.97, and she already has 16 saves on the year … her seven saves equaled her career-high, set in the opener against No. 24 Texas Tech … UNM has allowed only three goals on 44 shots, and scored two on 14 … Savannah Viola and Madisyn Olguin made their first career starts … O’Connor’s goal gives her three for her career, and among current players, only defender Brianna Webster (5) has more.