CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - A trio of goals in the first 35 minutes minutes propelled 14th-ranked North Carolina to a 3-1 victory over sixth-ranked Virginia Tech Thursday night at Fetzer Field, knocking the Hokies from the ranks of the nation's undefeated teams.
Carolina's goal scorers included Maria Lubrano, Amber Brooks and Alyssa Rich with Brooks also earning an assist on the Tar Heels' initial tally. Ashley Meier scored late in the first half for the Hokies to give them their only score of the game.
Carolina snapped a two-match winless streak to improve to 5-2-2 overall and 1-1-1 in the ACC heading into next Thursday's match against top-ranked Florida State at Fetzer Field at 7 p.m. The Hokies were off to their best start in school history but with the loss fell to 9-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
After a pair of shots by the Hokies in the opening two minutes of the match, including a Shannon Mayrose shot that required a save by Adelaide Gay 41 seconds into the game, Carolina struck for the lead on their first opportunity at net. The Tar Heels earned a corner kick in the eighth minute and Ranee Premji's serve to the 12-yard-line was picture perfect. Amber Brooks redirected the ball forward to Maria Lubrano who finished into the lower right corner of the frame from the three-yard line. The goal was Lubrano's fourth of the season and came at 7:50 of the match.
Just over four minutes later the Tar Heels upped their lead to 2-0 when the hard work of forward Kealia Ohai earned a penalty kick. Ohai dribbled through a cadre of Hokie defenders before being taken down on the left side of the penalty area at about the 10-yard line. Amber Brooks stepped confidently to the 12-yard line spot and struck an unstoppable penalty kick past Virginia Tech goalkeeper Dayle Colpitts. It was Brooks' third goal of the season and her second on a penalty kick.
Gay made her second save of the match in the 24th minute on a shot from the left side by Julia Goldsworthy. Less than a minute later, UNC almost made it 3-0 but Meg Morris' shot from 15 yards out was denied by the cross bar.
At 30:21 of the match, Jazmine Reeves had an excellent chance at goal as she got a step beyond the UNC defense. Adelaide Gay come out of the penalty box and fouled Reeves 20 yards from the goal, earning a yellow card in the process. The ensuing free kick by Jodie Zelenky flew over the bar.
Granted a reprieve, the Tar Heels took advantage to up their lead to 3-0 in the 35th minute. After Ohai hit the cross bar from the top of the area at 34:07, Kelly McFarlane pounced on the rebound but her shot was deflected by a Hokie defender and Alyssa Rich recovered the ball six yards out on the left side and finished cross frame into the side netting for her second goal of the season. Official time of the goal was 34:13.
Virginia Tech got on the scoreboard on a set piece in the 37th minute. After a foul by the Tar Heels 45 yards from goal, Anne Lumpkin sent a crafty free kick into the box that was headed on by Katie DeTuro. Ashley Meier was unmarked in the box and she finished into the lower right corner for her fourth goal of the season at 36:11 from about five yards out.
Neither team was able to dent the scoreboard in the second half. Maria Lubrano had the best chances for Carolina but she was denied by Dayle Colpitts' two saves on the night in the 60th and 62nd minutes. The Hokies had a pair of excellent chances midway through the second half but could get neither shot on frame with both headers going just wide, one to the right side and one to the left.
The Tar Heels kept their two-goal winning margin with a pair of top-notch defensive plays in the last three minutes of action. After a Virginia Tech corner kick by Anne Lumpkin, Ashley Manning had a shot from the right side of the penalty area that Crystal Dunn cleared off the line at 87:22. Dunn was a real difference maker for the Tar Heels all night as she repeatedly disrupted the final line of attack for the Hokies. UNC goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin, who came on at halftime for Gay, denied the last scoring chance for the Hokies in the final minute as she came off her line to the top of the penalty area to smother a shot from Shannon Mayrose who had gotten free behind the UNC defense.
Overall, the Hokies outshot the Tar Heels 15-12 and had a 4-2 edge in corner kicks. UNC was whistled for 13 fouls while the Hokies committed seven infractions. Gay had three saves and Heaberlin one for UNC while Colpitts finished with two saves for Virginia Tech.Carolina's game next Thursday against Florida State will mark the first time the Tar Heels have hosted a top-ranked team at Fetzer Field since August 26, 2011 when UNC beat Notre Dame 2-1 in overtime.