GAINESIVLLE, Fla. — North Carolina women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance said he felt good heading into penalty kicks in his team's third-round NCAA Tournament matchup with UCF.
"We did sufficient preparation," Dorrance said. "I think both of our goalkeepers ... are great penalty kick stoppers."
But it was UCF goalkeeper Aline Reis who ended North Carolina's season. Reis made two saves, including a low diving stop against UNC midfielder Ranee Premji that allowed UCF to outlast the Tar Heels 5-4 at James G. Pressly Stadium.
North Carolina (13-5-2) ended regulation and two overtime periods with UCF tied 1-1.
"(We're) disappointed that we're not moving on the NCAA Tournament, but we have to tip our hats to (UCF coach) Amanda Cromwell her excellent staff and her fine team," Dorrance said. "They fought us tooth and nail. We never had really any separation or true domination. I felt the tie at the end of regulation was legit."
North Carolina failed to generate enough scoring chances through regulation and overtime. Although UNC has eight corner kicks, the Tar Heels only got two of its 11 shots on net.
"They were scrappy," Dorrance said. "They made it very hard for us to face them. They all worked hard for each other. I felt the first half was theirs and I felt the second half was ours. I credit their hard work and just their doggedness."
After a scoreless first half, UCF took a 1-0 lead when Kristina Trujic drilled an 18-yard shot past UNC goalkeeper Anna Sieloff. But UNC tied the score when forward Crystal Dunn scored on eight-yard shot off a throw-in from Courtney Jones.
Reis thwarted many other UNC scoring opportunities by challenging crosses in the air and hanging on to them.
"She had an incredible vertical, especially for her size," Jones said of Reis. "We weren't expecting that. She had a great game. Their defense held us, but I think she was their key player on their defense, definitely.."
UNCs best early scoring chance came with 20 minutes remaining in the first half, but a Premji shot from 15 yards out bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and back in play.
North Carolina, which struggled for much of the season in overtime, couldn't get any shots in the two extra sessions. Still, the Tar Heels made it to penalty kicks to improve to 1-4-2 in overtime games.