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Russo’s overtime goal lifts Tar Heels to ACC women’s soccer title

Third-ranked Carolina wins 22nd ACC Tournament title over top-ranked Virginia.

Carolina beat Virginia 2-1 on Sunday to win the ACC championship. Photo by Jeffrey A. Camarati/

Tournament MVP Alessia Russo scored the game-winning goal 1:48 into the second overtime period to lift third-ranked North Carolina to a 2-1 victory over top-ranked Virginia Sunday afternoon in the 2019 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship game at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Tar Heels won the 22nd ACC Tournament championship in their history before a crowd of 2,942 fans and a national TV audience on ESPNU.

The Tar Heels improved to 19-1-1 on the season with the victory over the Cavaliers while Virginia dropped its first match of the season and is now 16-1-3 on the campaign. Carolina was playing in its fourth successive ACC Tournament final, having also won in 2017 while finishing as the runner-up in 2016 and 2018. This was Virginia’s first appearance in the finals since 2015.

Emily Fox set up Russo’s game-winning goal at 101:48 by sending a ball over the top from the right side of the field just over the midfield line. Russo took the ball in stride, dribbled just inside the box and set a low shot from 16 yards out into the lower left side of the frame for the game-winner. It was her ninth goal of the season and in the process she took over the team lead in game-winning goals with four.

Russo was named the tournament MVP after scoring twice in the ACC semifinal against NC State on Friday night and then tallying the game-winning goal against the Cavaliers on Sunday. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by four other Tar Heels – freshman defender Maycee Bell, sophomore goalkeeper Claudia Dickey, junior defender Emily Fox and junior defender Lotte Wubben-Moy.

Carolina dominated the game statistically, outshooting the Cavaliers 16-4 and earning 10 corner kicks to one for Virginia. Claudia Dickey went all 101 plus minutes in the game in goal and made one save and allowed one goal. It was the first goal Dickey had allowed in a game since the Arkansas match on Sept. 15. Laurel Ivory played 84:47 in goal for UVA before being injured. She made three saves and allowed one goal. Michaela Moran made one save and allowed one goal while playing the last 17:01 of the match.

The Tar Heels jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 6:47 into the match on Maycee Bell’s second goal of the season. Alessia Russo charged up the right side and took a shot that Virginia goalkeeper Laurel Ivory pushed over the cross bar leading to a corner kick. Lotte Wubben-Moy sent her corner kick from the right side perfectly on to the head of Bell in the center of the penalty area, and she redirected the ball perfectly over the Virginia defensive line and into the back net.

Each goalkeeper was forced to make a big save just seconds apart later in the half. Meghan McCool had a shot from 15 yards out in the right side of the box after she had slipped past the Carolina defense but Claudia Dickey made the save. Forty-nine seconds later, Rachel Jones had a shot just inside the top of the box for Carolina but Ivory smothered it for her second save of the game.

Carolina outshot the Cavaliers 7-2 in the first half and had four corner kicks in the half.

Virginia tied the match at 67:58 after a foul by the Tar Heels in the midfield. On the resulting free kick, the ball was headed out by a Carolina defender off the end line, but it went straight to Diana Ordonez who buried a shot from 12 yards out into the upper left corner. It was the 14th goal of the season for Ordonez. The shot was the only one taken in the second half by the Cavaliers.

The win for the Tar Heels was its first over a top-ranked team in the United Soccer Coaches poll since Nov. 30, 2012, when Carolina beat top-ranked Stanford 1-0 in double overtime in the NCAA Tournament semifinals.