CHAPEL HILL — With the star player from each team away for national team duty, it would be up to the supporting casts to decide Sundays ACC womens soccer showdown between No.1-ranked Virginia and No.4 North Carolina.
Score it for the Cavaliers.
Brittany Ratcliffe notched her 11th goal of the season during the 13th minute, and Makenzy Doniak got her 12th in the 84th minute as Virginia won 2-0 at sunny Fetzer Field. The Cavaliers (16-0, 10-0 ACC) remained the only undefeated and untied team in the nation and became only the second team in 28 years to beat the Tar Heels (13-3, 7-3) by more than one goal a span of 690 matches.
More immediately, the Cavaliers clinched a home game in the quarterfinals of next months ACC tournament and maintained their recent mastery of the series. Virginia has beaten UNC in three of their past four meetings, all by shutout. The other was a 2-2 tie last year.
Both teams were without their starting center midfielders, Crystal Dunn for UNC and Morgan Brian for Virginia. They were playing for the U.S. womens national team in a friendly against Australia in San Antonio, Texas.
I consider it a wash, UNC coach Anson Dorrance said of Dunns absence. They were missing their elite player as well.
It was difficult not having both Crystal and Morgan here, Virginia coach Steve Swanson said. I think the game lost something because of that. But we both understand that that is their future and we support that.
The Cavaliers struck for an early goal when midfielder Danielle Colaprico took a pass up the left sideline from defender Molly Menchel, turned the corner at the goal line and sent in a cross to Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe redirected the pass from 5 yards out for the score, just past the dive of goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin.
It was a great ball from Danny, Ratcliffe said. I saw it hit the post and went in.
Although she was making her first start of the season, Ratcliffe, a sophomore forward, has been instant offense for the Cavaliers. Her other 10 goals had come despite averaging just less than 42 minutes per game.
Shes been great, Swanson said. The difference from last year to this year, shes improved a lot. Shes done it with a lot of hard work.
After the Ratcliffe goal, Dorrance shifted from a three-player defensive back line to four, and the game settled into a defensive-minded affair. Shots were at a premium all day, with Virginia holding a 6-4 edge. The four shots by North Carolina equaled its school-record low set in last years ACC tournament loss to Virginia.
With just more than six minutes remaining and the Tar Heels looking to go forward in the midfield, Emily Sonnett stepped into a pass and started a counterattack by slotting a ball ahead to Doniak between two Tar Heels defenders.
Doniak beat North Carolinas second-half goalkeeper, Anna Sieloff, to the bottom left corner for the insurance goal.
Our two center backs were fantastic, Swanson said. Shasta Fisher raised her whole level today. And Emily Sonnett what a great run she made to spring Mack for that goal. And (goalkeeper) Morgan Stearns came out of her goal several times to snuff things out. Stearns finished with two saves; Heaberlin and Sieloff had one each.
Were obviously disappointed with the loss, Dorrance said. But Virginia is excellent. They completely shut us down in the first half. They didnt really let us in in the second half, but we had the territorial advantage.