Whether for her country or her college, whether defending or scoring, Crystal Dunn gets it done. The UNC senior, who earlier in the week spent 55 minutes marking Mexican strikers as the starting right fullback for the U.S. womens national team, scored in the 79th minute to give No. 1 North Carolina a 1-0 win over No. 2 UCLA.
The UNC-UCLA game was the nightcap for Day One of the Duke Nike Classic. In the opener, the Blue Devils and the West Virginia Mountaineers ended 1-1 after two halves and 20 minutes of overtime.
In the battle between the nations two best teams, Dunn proved once again why she is the college games best player. After winning the Hermann trophy (soccers Heisman) and guiding Carolina to its 21st NCAA title in 2013, Dunn has started the 2013 campaign in dominating fashion with five goals in four games played.
Against UCLA, she patrolled and controlled the midfield for much of the game, then focused on the bottom line as time grew short. After teammate Brooke Elby gained possession in UCLAs third and slotted a pass between two Bruin defenders to her teammates waiting feet, Dunn used a grass-cutting, right-footed flick to get Carolina the only goal it needed.
The keeper (Katelyn Rowland) was so good in the air, I knew I was going to have to go low to beat her, Dunn said.
Four minutes earlier, Rowland fended off a Dunn shot from point blank range for her seventh save. Carolina tallied 23 shots overall. As for Carolinas goal tending, head coach Anson Dorrance once again went with the duo of senior Anna Sieloff and sophomore Bryane Heaberlin. The undefeated Tar Heels, who have given up only one goal in the teams first five games, have been well-served by the tag-team approach. With 18 minutes left, Heaberlin the literal second half of the tandem stoned a Bruin breakaway to keep the game scoreless.
The first half was played fast and favored North Carolina in every offensive category shots (13-2), shots on goal (5-0), corner kicks (8-2), and time of possession (heavily in the Heels favor) except the only one that mattered as the teams went to halftime 0-0.
While the college soccer world waited for UNC versus UCLA, the host Blue Devils and West Virginia refused to cede the stage. The teams, also among the elite in womens soccer, provided a worthy if indecisive undercard.
West Virginia struck early and first with an ambitious but successful drive from Frances Silva. The junior from Overland Park, Kan., sent a laser from 20 yards past Duke goalkeeper Ali Keshner to give the Mountaineers the lead at halftime. The advantage held into the 75th minute when Duke senior and Durham native Mollie Pathman lined up for a penalty kick courtesy of a West Virginia hand ball in the box. Goalkeeper Sara Keane dove right but guessed wrong. Pathmans penalty kick was hard, high and right down the middle. It was the first goal of the season for Pathman, the senior who spent much of the game chasing the speedy Silva.
The first overtime proved uneventful with the only scoring chance a strike from Duke senior Laura Weinberg that tattooed the crossbar. In the second overtime, Silva had a golden opportunity to get West Virginia the win but sent a free kick wide.
West Virginia came into the game ranked No. 9 and left with its second tie of the year balanced by three victories. Duke, ranked 12th, falls to 3-1-1. There is little rest for the now wearied teams: the Mountaineers face North Carolina on Sunday at Koskinen Stadium while Duke takes on UCLA.
But no player should be more tired than Dunn whose double duty for UNC and the USA is fatiguing just to watch. But her coach isnt worried. Shes a machine, Dorrance said.