BR-6 North Carolina began their season with two losses and a draw in their first three matches. This poor start caused them to drop from their BR-4 preseason ranking. However, North Carolina has been on a two-month hot streak that has seen them win nine consecutive matches and go undefeated in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
The Tar Heels are a well-balanced team that has proven they are capable of scoring against some of the toughest defenses in all of Division 1 women’s soccer.
North Carolina’s defense has been anchored by Katie Bowen and Satara Murray. Murray has been the backbone of the Tar Heel defense over the last three years, and is second on the team in minutes played. Murray has started every match this season alongside Bowen.
Bowen is in her junior season and when she isn’t featuring in the Tar Heel back line, she spends her free time trying to help New Zealand qualify for the Women’s World Cup. The pair has combined to help North Carolina keep clean sheets against top-ranked UCLA, BR-7 Penn State, and conference rivals Duke.
The Tar Heels offense has seen eleven different players score goals this season. They have also only been held to one goal on a single occasion over the last two months, a 1-0 victory over Penn State, and have not been shutout since an early season loss to BR-22 Pepperdine.
Sophomore forward Emily Bruder leads the team in goals scored, with four on the season, a feat she has performed in only 459 minutes on the pitch. Bruder scored both goals in North Carolina’s 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh and followed it up with a brace against Duke.
Fellow sophomore Joanna Boyles has notched three goals and five assists during her twelve games this season, and she currently leads the team with 13 points.
Bryane Heaberlin and Lindsey Harris have split time as the Tar Heels goalkeeper this season. The pair has typically alternated starts with one replacing the other during the halftime interval. This keeper-by-rotation system has worked well for the Tar Heels and enabled them to collect five clean sheets this season.
After a slow start to the 2014 season, the North Carolina Tar Heels have rallied with consistent offensive production and solid defensive work. They have not lost since August and are now on a collision course with Florida State. The battle against the Seminoles will take place on Thursday night, and it could have title implications in the ACC. Entering the match, the teams have won a combined total of nineteen consecutive games. This game is shaping up to be one of the season’s best.