CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The 2nd-ranked Texas A&M soccer team ran out of time as the 3rd-ranked North Carolina used two first half goals to beat the Aggies 2-1 in front of 4,495 fans in the opening day of the Carolina Nike Classic at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“It’s a tough loss, we felt like we just ran out of time,” A&M head coach G Guerrieri said. “We came out in the first 25-30 minutes and did a good job as far as playing straight up, we did a good job of keeping possession, keeping them in trouble and being able to go back and forth. Carolina was fantastic in the last 20 minutes of the first period and that was really difference in the game.”
A&M brought the match within one goal in the 60th minute as Pistorius one-touched the ball into the far right post off a midfield pass from sophomore Amber Gnatzig. Gnatzig stole the ball in the Aggies’ defensive half of the field and dribbled up the middle dishing off a pass about 18 yards away from the goal for Pistorius’ fourth tally of the season.
“I thought Ashlee’s goal was a terrific goal,” Guerrieri noted. “It was very well set up by Amber Gnatzig running at their backline and sliding the ball in and Ashlee just had a class finish. A lot of our players, especially in the last 45 minutes, did a tremendous job.”
UNC (1-1-0) was able to withstand a flurry of Aggie (2-1-0) attacks in the last 10 minutes of play to hold on to the lead for their first win of the season, A&M’s first loss, including a play where freshman forward Whitney Hooper tangled up with Carolina keeper Ashlyn Harris in the box. Unfortunately for the Aggies, the Tar Heel defense was able to clear the ball before any damage could be done. A&M won the battle in the air in the second half, increasing their intensity to gain possession as the physical match wore on.
Carolina managed to score its first goal of 2007 season in the 36th minute as Yael Averbuch made a quick pass to into Meghan Klingenberg who lined a shot just over the outstretched arms of Aggie keeper Kristin Arnold. The goal also served as the first the Aggies surrendered in nearly 216 minutes of play.
The Tar Heels posted the game-winner five minutes later as Sterling Smith collected a rebound on the near side off a deflected shot from Mandy Moraca.
“We lost our intensity in about the 30th minute and they took advantage of that and got two goals in a five-minute span and that is disappointing,” Guerrieri said. “But overall, I thought it was a very tight game.”
Pistorius was credit with all three of the Aggies’ shots in the game, two of the shots coming in the first half of play. The first was off a foul about 25 yards out resulting in a direct free kick that was blocked by the Tar Heel defensive wall. Pistorius’ second shot was fired at the close right post but Ashlyn Harris was waiting to scoop up her only save of the match.
“Hats off to Carolina because they are a heck of team, heck of a program,” Guerrieri ended. “These games make us better, to be able to come in and play in such a difficult environment. I’m disappointed for our players because I thought we really came out and did great for much of the game, but we’re going to have to be able to play for 90 minutes from here on out.”
A&M closes out play in the Carolina Nike Classic on Sunday as it faces the Duke Blue Devils at 10:00 a.m. at Fetzer Field.
Shots by period 1 2 Total
TAMU 2 1 3
North Carolina 8 4 12
Corner kicks 1 2 Total
TAMU 1 0 1
North Carolina 6 1 7
Saves by period 1 2 Total
TAMU 3 1 4
North Carolina 1 0 1
Fouls 1 2 Total
TAMU 3 4 7
North Carolina 7 4 11
No. Time Team Goal scorer Assist
1. 35:42 NC Meghan Klingenberg (1) Yael Averbuch
2. 40:14 NC Sterling Smith (1) Mandy Moraca
3. 58:34 TAMU Pistorius, Ashlee (4) Gnatzig, Amber