CHAPEL HILL, NC — No. 3 BYU women’s soccer lost 2-0 to No. 10 North Carolina in its final exhibition of the 2022 season Saturday night in Chapel Hill.
“I thought we had our hands full, a little more than what we had planned on tonight,” said BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood. “Coming out here and playing against a team like North Carolina at home was certainly a challenge, and I don't feel like we rose to the occasion. We came out a little slow, we didn't play with confidence out there and we just didn't handle the pressure very well.”
North Carolina controlled the tempo of the match from the get-go holding the Cougars to six shots, three of which were on frame and only allowed two BYU corner kicks in 90 minutes. The Tar Heels gave the Cougar defense all it could handle, earning 10 corners, taking 26 shots, 11 on goal and two finding the back of the net. The 26 shots allowed were more than any team had against the Cougars all of last season. The most allowed in the 2021 campaign was 20 from USC.
In her first start between the pipes for BYU, goalie Savanna Mason recorded seven saves on 11 shots, while allowing two UNC goals. The three shots on goal for the Cougars came from freshmen Allie Fryer and Sierra Pennock with Jamie Shepherd and Kendell Peterson each rocketing a shot off the crossbar.
North Carolina applied early pressure to the Cougars back-line, controlling the tempo and outshooting the Cougars 3-0 in the first 12 minutes. In the 12th minute, Avery Patterson provided UNC with its first scoring opportunity of the night, as she sent a shot just wide of the left post, resulting in a BYU goal kick. North Carolina controlled the goal kick and played a ball to Sam Meza who crossed to Tori Dellaperuta for the Tar Heel’s fourth shot, which found the back of the net to give them the 1-0 lead early.
The North Carolina attack kept the pressure on BYU throughout the first half as UNC led BYU in shots (6-0), shots on goal (2-0) and corners (2-0) before BYU could get its first shot.
After being held at bay for the first 41 minutes, the Cougar offense tested the Tar Heel defense with two shots in as many minutes.
In the 42nd minute, Shepherd played a ball to Fryer who took BYU’s first shot of the game that was saved in the top-center of the net by Marz Josephson to keep the score at 1-0. Fryer again applied pressure on the Tar Heels’ goalie with a shot toward the bottom right corner of the net, forcing a diving save by Josephson to protect the North Carolina lead.
At the half, the Cougars trailed the Tar Heels 1-0 with the Heels leading 11-2 in shots and earning five corner kicks to BYU’s zero.
In the 48th minute, a North Carolina corner kick pinballed around the penalty area and found the foot of Patterson who sent it into the back of the net to extend the Tar Heel lead to 2-0 early in the second half.
After the North Carolina goal, the Cougars recorded three shots in two minutes, two of which found the woodwork. Peterson sent a left-footed shot from the left flank in the 49th minute which nailed the crossbar, while a shot from Shepherd in the 50th minute also found the pipe, keeping the Cougars down two with 40 minutes to play.
After the Cougar offensive burst, the Tar Heels regained control of the game and took 12-straight shots, six of which were on frame and saved by Savanna Mason.
In the 86th minute, Pennock floated a shot from just outside the box to the top-center of the frame that was saved by UNC’s Nona Reason to all-but-seal the 2-0 victory for the Tar Heels.
“There are lots of good lessons for us to learn from this game, and we know where we need to go now,” Rockwood said. “Anytime you come off a game where you feel that you weren't at your best, you're anxious to get back on the field again. So, we'll get to see how resilient the team is, and I think the girls will be hungry and ready to go on Thursday night.”
The Cougars will open the regular season as they travel to California for a date with the Cal State Fullerton Titans on Thursday, Aug. 18. The match will be broadcast live on BYURadio.org or the BYU Radio app.