DURHAM — With nonconference play behind them, the women’s soccer coaches at North Carolina and Duke have divergent attitudes as the rigorous ACC schedule looms four days away.
Anson Dorrance of No.1-ranked UNC said he was ecstatic after his Tar Heels won the championship of the Duke Nike Classic over the weekend. They wrapped up the title with a 4-2 victory Sunday over West Virginia, which depending upon the poll was ranked either ninth (Soccer America) or 19th (NSCAA coaches).
Meanwhile, Duke coach Robbie Church said he was disappointed in his 12th-ranked Blue Devils’ effort in a 2-1 loss to No.3 UCLA. Duke had tied West Virginia 1-1 Friday, when UNC claimed a 1-0 victory over UCLA.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be undefeated entering the ACC season,” Dorrance said. “This puts us in a great position for a powerful RPI. This tournament might be the best in the country, to have four teams that were as highly ranked as we were to come in. So for us to come out of this weekend undefeated was tremendous.”
The Tar Heels (6-0) took command early, bolting to a 3-0 halftime lead. Senior forward Kealia Ohai broke free on a quick throw-in from Alexa Newfield down the left sideline and scored her fourth goal of the season from 12 yards into the right corner at 8 minutes, 40 seconds.
Crystal Dunn, whose busy week began with a starting assignment for the U.S. women’s national team against Mexico on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., picked up her sixth goal of the season, off assists from Newfield and Meg Morris. Dunn, a senior midfielder, found the range from 18 yards at 16:38.
Freshman midfielder Joanna Boyles, from Sanderson High, notched her first collegiate goal at 43:57, bending a free kick that would have done David Beckham proud. She swerved her shot over a three-player wall and into the lower left corner from 22 yards after former Broughton High defender Jess Crowder fouled and picked up a yellow card, giving the Tar Heels an opportunity.
“I didn’t know we had a Brazilian on the roster,” Dorrance said in jest. “Trust me, that will be scouted. Teams will be wary of giving us free kicks.”
Sophomore forward Summer Green closed out UNC’s scoring 1:27 into the second half with a penalty kick, but the Tar Heels seemed to lose interest the rest of the afternoon.
West Virginia’s Frances Silva scored on a penalty kick at 59:39, and Kate Schwindel scored from 10 yards as the Mountaineers (3-1-2) worked a 2-on-1 run to perfection down the left flank.
“I’ve never had a halftime talk at 3-0 that’s ever worked, and this was another failure,” Dorrance said. “It’s almost impossible to motivate the team to play then. They all become complacent because 3-0 is a comfortable margin. And sure enough, West Virginia made us pay.”
“We’ve got to figure out a way to manage leads better. … That being said, we scored four goals against a team of that caliber.”
Church has bigger concerns as Duke gets ready for ACC play this week. The Blue Devils (3-2-1) have not scored more than one goal in a game so far, and they got off to another slow start. The Bruins (5-1) struck early when they converted a fastbreak at 7:08 into Rosie White’s goal off a breakaway by Taylor Smith.
UCLA outshot Duke 9-3 in the half, and Church in frustration benched three of his veterans – Natasha Anasi, Mollie Pathman and Laura Weinberg – midway through the half.
“They were not good enough at that time,” said Church, who used eight players off the bench looking for a spark. It finally came in the second half, when the Blue Devils turned up the offensive pressure and outshot UCLA 11-7. But they couldn’t come up with the tying goal as Bruins goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland finished with four saves and helped turn away six Duke corner kicks.
UCLA stretched the lead to 2-0 at 77:48 as Darian Jenkins scored into an open net when Duke goalkeeper Ali Kershner came off her line too late to field a through ball that Jenkins ran down.
Duke avoided a shutout with four seconds left when Pathman converted a penalty kick after Katie Trees was fouled in the penalty area, but Church wasn’t mollified.
“We didn’t go after it as a group and a unit,” he said. “We went after it individually. They just shredded us apart early in the match. … I think there were some really positive spots over the weekend even though we were 0-1-1. Some of the play of the young players was really, really positive.”