CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - No. 19 North Carolina and No. 20 Florida battled to a scoreless draw Friday night before a huge crowd of 4,125 fans at Fetzer Field in the Tar Heels' 2012 home opener. Both teams now stand 0-1-1 on the season.
The game was the second of Friday night's doubleheader at the Carolina Nike Classic. Top-ranked Duke beat the University of Montreal in an exhibition game in the lidlifter 5-1.
UNC outshot the Gators 11-8 on the night, including an 5-1 edge in shots on goal. Taylor Burke made five saves for the Gators while Anna Sieloff, who played the final 65 minutes in goal for UNC made one save and it was a big one, denying an excellent scoring chance for Florida in the first overtime. The Tar Heels had the edge in corner kicks 8-0.
The best scoring chance of the first half came in the 27th minute when UNC's Amber Brooks hit the right post. After a Florida foul just inside midfield, Marina Nesic sent a long ball into the box that was nodded down by Satara Murray. Brooks was there to pounce on it but her shot from four yards pinged off the right upright for a goal kick.
Florida had one of its best chances of the night in the 49th minute after Caitlin Ball was whistled for a foul just outside the penalty area straight on from 20 yards away. The official ruled it an indirect free kick and Havana Solaun's try sailed over the bar for a goal kick.
The best scoring chances for both sides ended up being clustered in the 20 minutes of overtime where the teams flew at each other, creating exciting end-to-end action. A turnover by the Florida defense in the penalty area led to a shot by UNC freshman Paige Nielsen which went off the cross bar at the 93:35 mark. Just over a minute later, Florida almost ended the game on an excellent chance on a scramble in front of the goal. After a UNC foul, Christen Westphal sent a long ball from near midfield that was headed on by Holly King. The ball appeared headed for the foot of Havana Solaun for an easy putaway but Sieloff came off her line and snatched the ball out of the air before Solaun could redirect King's shot into the goal.
Carolina had a chance to win in the 100th minute but Maria Lubrano was ruled offside after appearing to score the game-winning goal at 99:22 of the match. Television replays showed she was just beyond the Florida defensive line before taking the ball for the putaway.
In the second overtime, Erika Tymrak dribbled in alone into the left side of the penalty box before the Tar Heel defense closed down and Amber Brooks and Hanna Gardner were able to block the Gator's shot at the last second in the 105th minute. The last good chance to score in the game for either team came in the 106th minute when Brooks' shot from long distance was tipped over the bar at the last second by UF goalie Taylor Burke.
Both teams were missing key players with Florida minus Adriana Leon who is playing for Canada at the U20 World Cup in Japan.
UNC has four players at the U20 World Cup - Crystal Dunn, Bryane Heaberlin and Kealia Ohai for the American side and Katie Bowen for the Football Ferns of New Zealand. UNC freshman striker Summer Green also missed Friday's game after being pulled into the U.S. U17 National Team Training Camp last Saturday.
The Tar Heels also played their first game in over two years without starting left back Megan Brigman in the lineup. Brigman had started 44 successive games for North Carolina and had led UNC in minutes played in both 2010 and 2011 but she suffered a fracture in her left leg less than four minutes into last Friday's 1-0 loss at Portland. She is out a minimum of four weeks.
Both teams will be back in action in the Carolina Nike Classic again on Sunday. Top-ranked Duke (2-0) will meet 20th-ranked Florida (0-1-1) at 1 p.m. at Fetzer Field while UNC (0-1-1) will meet Montreal at 3 p.m. in an exhibition game.
The game was the 800th in UNC's illustrious women's soccer history. The Tar Heels are now 8-1-1 all-time against Florida.