DURHAM, N.C. — A goal from Amber Munerlyn lifted No. 14 North Carolina to a 1-0 victory against No. 7 Penn State in the opening match Friday night at the Duke Nike Classic at Koskinen Stadium.
“Obviously we’re thrilled to score a goal,” UNC coach Anson Dorrance said. “That’s cause for celebration these days. And Penn State is legit, a top-10 team.
UNC (2-2-1) saw its scoring drought reach 319 minutes over four games, a program record that exceeded the previous high set in 2012 by more than 100 minutes. On the plus side, the Tar Heels have allowed only two goals despite tweaking a rebuilt defense.
Midfielder Joanna Boyles maintained that the team was handling the offensive frustration well.
“It was tough, but this team is so resilient,” she said. “We knew we were going to have a breakthrough game at some point. We felt this could be that game. Stanford was a tough, tough team, and we dominated that game. We didn’t want another double overtime loss. We really dug deep.”
Boyles assisted on the game-winning play with a long ball toward Munerlyn.
“[Penn State] play a pretty high line,” Munerlyn said. “It was a perfectly placed ball over the top. I was able to run on to it and finish it.”
Some post match love for Munerlyn after her OT goal pic.twitter.com/q7z96ZuuHh
— UNC Women’s Soccer (@UNCwomensSoccer) September 5, 2014
Dorrance said the team has improved on offense, despite the lack of goals. “We’re getting more shots,” he said. “I’m pleased we got back in the groove. We’re the Tar Heels. This is a team known for never giving up, for fighting.”
UNC outshot Penn State, 23-15, forcing Nittany Lions goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom to make 10 saves. UNC’s goalkeeper tandem of Bryane Heaberlin and Lindsey Harris had four saves.
Dorrance also credited UNC’s depth with turning the tide. He utilized 18 field players, four more than Penn State, which may have worn down the Lions.
“That’s always been our policy,” he said. “We always play a deep roster. We’re very liberal in giving our kids a chance to play. It benefits us, especially in an overtime game.”