CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The ninth-ranked North Carolina women's soccer team exploded for its highest goal output in 28 games Sunday as it defeated Miami 6-1 before 2,100 fans at Fezter Field. Carolina bounced back from a shutout loss to top-ranked Florida State Thursday night in exhilarating fashion as it improves to 6-3-2 on the season and 2-2-1 in the ACC.
Six different Tar Heels scored in the match - Kealia Ohai, Amber Brooks, Ranee Premji, Katie Bowen, Maria Lubrano and Paige Nielsen. Premji and Bowen also had assists in addition to their goals. Freshman Kat Nigro and senior Kristine Welsh-Loveman both had their first career assists and Bowen's goal was the first of her career for the Auckland, New Zealand newcomer.
Miami was coming off a 2-0 win at NC State on Thursday in which it dominated the Wolfpack including a 20-4 edge in shots. But Carolina came out on fire and finished two scoring chances in the opening eight minutes of the match to set the Canes back on their heels. UNC would go on two score three more goals in a one and one-half minute span of the second half to put the game away. Miami fell to 6-5-1 overall and 1-3 in the ACC with the loss. After Miami beat the Tar Heels in Coral Gables in 2009, UNC has won three straight games in the season by a combined 15-2 margin.
UNC outshot the Hurricanes 28-8 on the day and had a 4-2 edge in corner kicks. Both teams went deep into their benches with UNC utilizing 22 players and Miami using 19. Carolina had a 14-1 edge in shots on goal. Emily Lillard made seven saves while allowing five goals in 72:16 for the Canes and Paula Ford Cabrera came on for 17:44, making one save and allowing on goal. Adelaide Gay started for the Tar Heels and went the first 74:20 in net and did not face a shot on target. Hannah Daly played the final 15:40, surrendering the only goal scored on the day by the Hurricanes.
Carolina opened the scoring on the season's most spectacular goal to date. She took a defensive clearance from UNC freshman Hanna Gardner with her back to the UNC goal 10 yards on Carolina's side of midfield. Ohai went on a dead sprint for 65 yards, weaving through four defenders before burying a shot from the top of the box into the upper right 90 of the frame at 5:20 of the match. Just over two minutes later, Carolina made it 2-0, getting its second goal of the season off a corner kick. Ranee Premji served a perfect ball into the center of the penalty area and Amber Brooks headed it home from the six-yard line for her fourth goal of the season.
The Tar Heels had several excellent chances to add to their lead before halftime but were unable to convert.
Carolina maintained its precarious 2-0 lead until the 71st minute when the floodgates burst open with three goals in a 90-second span. At 70:40, Ranee Premji notched her first goal of the season. Kat Nigro served a bending ball from the right side that Reilly Parker redirected on the left side of the box. Premji pounced on the ball and finished from six yards out for a 3-0 lead. Just 43 seconds later, Carolina made it 4-0 with Katie Bowen garnering her first career goal, placing a shot from the top of the box into the upper right corner off an assist by Meg Morris. It took just 47 more seconds for Maria Lubrano to register her team-leading fifth goal of the season as she took a service from Bowen and redirected a shot from a tough angle across the frame inside the far post. Lubrano and Summer Green each have tallied five times this season for Carolina.
Miami got on the scoreboard just a few minutes later as the Hurricanes converted on a brilliant free kick by Ali Brennan from 20 yards out after a Tar Heel foul. Brennan's goal was her third of the year as she placed her shot perfectly over the Miami wall and over the outstretched arms of Daly.
The Tar Heels wrapped up the scoring in the 85th minute with freshman Paige Nielsen earning her second goal of the season, finishing from in close into the lower right part of the frame off the assist by Kristine Welsh-Loveman.
The six goals were the most in a game for Carolina since it beat Houston 6-1 on August 28, 2011 at Fetzer Field
Carolina will finish off a four-game homestand when it hosts 14th-ranked Boston College at Fetzer Field Thursday night at 8 p.m. The game will be regionally televised on the ACC's Regional Sports Network. Check TheACC.com for a list of cable affiliates for the game.