CARY — North Carolina wasted no time showing why theyre still a national force despite losing a core of talented upperclassmen.
Kealia Ohai scored 22 seconds into the North Carolinas 4-2 win over Virginia Tech in the first round the ACC Womens Soccer Championship at WakeMed Soccer Park Wednesday.
Ohai was the first of three Tar Heel freshmen to score in the game.
It happened so fast, it seemed like it had been drawn up, but North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance insisted otherwise.
Id love to pretend there was some sort of design but it wasnt, he said. We have some quality players and one of them is Kealia Ohai. She took the game into her hands, beat a quality defender and smacked a perfect shot, lower side panel. It was just an exquisite finish.
Freshman Crystal Dunn was credited with an assist on the play.
I got a ball and saw Kealia making a diagonal run and played it to her feet, Dunn said of the play. She did all of the work.
The Hokies trailed the rest of the game.
You cant go down 1-0 after 22 seconds to the repeat national champions like that, Virginia Tech coach Kelly Cagle said. They are going to make you play. I like the way we finished each half, I just didnt like the way we started each half.
Dunn, who was voted ACC defensive player of the year, scored at 26:03 on an assist from junior Courtney Jones, giving the Tar Heels a 2-0 at halftime.
Dunn acknowledged the pressure of being freshmen for a storied program.
Coming into this year, we did have to step up, she said. Theres a lot on our shoulders but the [upperclassmen] are definitely helping us so were not alone.
The Hokies (10-9-1) had only two chances in the first half, which North Carolina goalie Hannah Daly handled.
Hokies freshman Jazmine Reeves broke away and fired, which Daly deflected, and seconds later, Hokies freshmen Ashley Manning fired unsuccessfully on the rebound.
In the second half, Tar Heel freshman Meg Morris added a goal 49:13 when sophomore Alyssa Rich found her on the left side.
North Carolina junior Emmalie Pfankuch added another at 70:37 for a 4-0 lead that prompted Dorrance to pull several starters, a move he regretted.
In the just over seven minutes after that Prankuchs goal, Virginia Tech scored twice, with goals from freshman Katie DeTuro and sophomore Julia Goldsworthy.
I thought we were playing very well and finishing some wonderful chances, and then my poor game management skills jumped in and all of the sudden it was a game, Dorrance said. I shouldnt have subbed that early. And all of the sudden, Virginia Tech was back in it.
He gave credit to his goalkeeper Daly.
She sort of hung in there like grim death at the end, when we were under severe pressure, he said.
North Carolina will play Wake Forest on in a 5 p.m. semifinals match on Friday.
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