Jackrabbits fall to No. 5 North Carolina in the opening round

Upsetting the No. 5 team in the country takes incredible effort, teamwork and luck.

The Jackrabbits had the first two, but not the latter as they fell to the University of North Carolina Tar Heels 2-0 at Chapel Hill, N.C. in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament.

SDSU entered the game a clear underdog, coming out of the Summit League with a 10-7-1 record and facing the 21-time National Champion Tar Heels and their 12-3-2 record out of the ACC.

UNC went out on the attack early, but for the first 15 minutes of the game the SDSU defense held, foiling the Tar Heel assault.

“It was definitely the most athletic team that we’ve ever played,” said head coach Lang Wedemeyer. “That took some getting used to.”

The Tar Heels scored their first goal 16 minutes in when Amber Munerlyn struck net off assists by Emily Bruder and Satara Murray.

Paige Nielsen would tack on another goal in the 42nd minute coming off assists from Maya Worth and Amanda Rooney, but that would be all for the Tar Heels.

Inskeep recorded seven saves in the game behind the backline of Ashley Adams, Dani Patterson, Delaney Ratcliffe, and Katie McNeary.

“I came into the game pretty prepared to make some saves tonight,” Inskeep said. “We kind of knew we’d be under a lot of pressure in the back. … In the end I’m really happy with how we played.”

Offensively, the Jacks managed to generate several strong scoring opportunities in the second half, but the ball would not bounce their way.

“To the girls’ credit, at halftime we made a couple adjustments and they came out and really worked hard and for periods of time were the better team on the field in the second half,” Wedemeyer said. “We were a little bit unlucky not to get a goal.”

SDSU had several free kick opportunities within striking distance of the goal and on other occasions saw Diana Potterveld’s header off a corner kick miss wide and an attack that passed its way into the box come to naught against a UNC defense that featured two first-team All-ACC defenders and only allowed multiple goals during three games this season.

The Jackrabbits were the seventh team this season to be shutout by UNC.

“It would have been nice to get a goal and say we scored against North Carolina, but we left the field with our heads held high,” Wedemeyer said.

Looking back on the season, Wedemeyer said that that while the team lacked consistency at times, how they finished the season and rose to the challenges they faced are things his team can be very proud of.

“Every time they were faced with a challenge, they rose to that challenge – whether it be getting into the Summit League Tournament and then winning the regular season, being down late against Denver and finding a way to win that game, then going to one of the storied programs in soccer history and representing SDSU extremely well,” Wedemeyer said.

The future for the young team is bright. Next year they look to bring back their starting 11, and thanks to their regular season Summit League Championship, they will be hosting the Summit League Tournament where they will look to make it back to the NCAA Tournament and build on their experiences this year.

“Going in [to the game against UNC] we knew it would be quite the challenge and we’re really happy with how we played and ready to start working toward next year,” Inskeep said.