CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina has the only two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year in Crystal Dunn. However, in the 2012 NCAA tournament, she has yet to play on defense.
UNC coach Anson Dorrance moved the speedy junior to midfield and forward and in two games it has paid dividends.
Dunn scored her second goal of the playoffs and set up another to lead the second-seeded Tar Heels to a 9-2 rout of Illinois in the second round of the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship on Friday night at Fetzer Field.
UNC (12-5-2) will host third-seeded Baylor at 1 p.m. Sunday. Dana Larsen scored her 11th goal 2:41 into overtime to send Baylor past Georgetown 2-1 in Friday's first game.
Senior forward Alyssa Rich came off the bench to get two goals for UNC, which had its biggest scoring night since beating Guilford 9-0 in 2003 and matched its NCAA tournament high, which last came in a 9-0 win over Florida in 1996.
Kelly McFarlane, Katie Bowen, Kealia Ohai, Ranee Premji and Kat Nigro also scored for UNC.
Nicole Breece and Niki Read had the goals for Illinois (10-9-4).
One victim of the onslaught was Tar Heels alumna and Illinois coach Janet Rayfield, who played for two national championship teams at UNC during her career (1979-82).
“I've been back here before and had nine goals scored on us, so maybe I'm not coming back any more,” Rayfield said.
Illinois scored first and UNC found itself down a goal in the first 10 minutes for the third time in its last four games. The crowd of 1,003 had barely settled in when Breece took a pass from Vanessa DiBernardo and scored her fourth goal from 15 yards out at 1:29.
“I'll be honest, there was a little bit in me that was afraid we awoke a sleeping giant,” Rayfield said.
She was right.
McFarlane stuck in a rebound of Summer Green's saved shot five minutes later to tie, and Dunn gave the Tar Heels the lead for good at 36:13 with her second goal in as many tournament games on a through ball from Rich.
“I feel like a defender at heart, but lately I've been thrown all over the field,” Dunn said.
“She can beat people off the dribble like nobody's business,” Dorrance said. “This young lady has the best agility with the ball of any player I've ever coached … She's one of the most extraordinary one-on-one dribblers I've seen.”