[NORTH CAROLINA-ILLINOIS] North Carolina beat Illinois, 9-2, tying the school record for goals in an NCAA Tournament game and falling one short of the NCAA
Tournament record set by Texas A&M in 2004. Seven different Tar Heels scored in UNC’s biggest offensive output since the 2002 season.
Senior Alyssa Rich led the Tar Heels off the bench with two goals and an assist. Kealia Ohai, Ranee Premji, Kelly McFarlane and Katie Bowen each had a goal and an assist. Summer Green added two assists. Kat Nigro scored her first career goal while both Paige Nielsen and Marina Nesic had their first career assists.
The Fighting Illini had taken a 1-0 lead after 89 seconds as Nicole Breeze scored after taking a through ball from U.S. U-20 Vanessa DiBernardo. It marked the third time in the last four games the Tar Heels have surrendered a goal in the opening 10 minutes of the game.
But Carolina recovered and just over five minutes later equalized when McFarlane scored on a rebound off Green's shot.
DiBernardo was injured in the 29th minute and went off never to return to the game.
Crystal Dunn, DiBernardo's former U.S. U-20 teammate, put the Heels ahead in the 37th minute, and Carolina pulled away with seven second-half goals, two in the first five minutes and four in the first 15 minutes.
"There's no doubt that tonight the wheels fell off the wagon. I am the one who is tasked with making sure the wagon is ready so I take responsibility," said Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield, a UNC alum. "We scored early and soon after we started playing not to lose and there was way too much time for that. We have some young players who learned some great lessons tonight. We will move on and look to be back in this spot better prepared next year. There was great moments from this season that we will remember forever-tonight just won't be one of them."
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