No. 1 UNC Keeps 'Foot on the Pedal' in Historic Drubbing of No. 5 Maryland


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Jenny Levy stood at the corner of North Carolina’s Soccer & Lacrosse Stadium on Saturday afternoon and rattled off a list of names. After her team’s historic drubbing of Maryland, she had plenty of people to thank.

New starter Scottie Rose Growney and her career-high six goals got a shout-out. As did Jamie Ortega and Katie Hoeg, the usual suspects behind UNC’s potent offense.

Goalie Taylor Moreno and the defensive unit were praised for their chemistry, anticipation and successful double-teaming. And Levy couldn’t forget her assistants — Katrina Dowd for offense, Phil Barnes for defense and Grace Gabriel for draw control — whose preparation made this all possible.

“Today’s a great day,” the head coach said with a smile.

That’s the kind of game it was for the No. 1 Tar Heels, who got contributions across the board in a 19-6 blowout win over the No. 5 Terrapins.

UNC’s 13-goal margin of victory more than doubled its previous high of six (in the 2016 NCAA title game) against its premiere rival. In other words, this was a rout for the record books. All the more sweet, players said, given they pulled it off in Chapel Hill.

“It’s really surreal,” said Growney, a junior midfielder. “You always dream about putting running time on a team like Maryland and getting your subs in.”

North Carolina had long dubbed the lead-up to this game as Terp Week, and the preparation started soon after a win over Davidson last Sunday.

“The second that game was over,” Ortega said of when the focus shifted to Maryland (1-2).

The star junior attacker could feel her whole team was “dialed in” every practice, every film session, every discussion. Sure, Maryland had just lost to then-No. 14 Florida, ending an 86-game home winning streak that spanned eight years, but UNC knew better than to overlook the Terrapins.

Of the last 11 games between the rivals, six had been decided by one goal. A 13-12 overtime loss in College Park last February also weighed heavy on the Tar Heels’ minds.

“They're such a great opponent,” Hoeg said.

North Carolina’s mantra for the rivalry game was to keep its foot on the pedal. To keep pushing. And after Maryland’s Brindi Griffin opened the scoring 44 seconds into the game, UNC did just that.

The Tar Heels ripped off three straight goals — from Ortega, then Growney, then Hoeg — to claim a 3-1 lead six minutes in. After the Terrapins cut the deficit to 4-3, UNC again went on a 3-0 run to seize momentum. At halftime, North Carolina led 7-4 and had out-shot Maryland, 16-8.

It wasn’t all offense, though. Through 30 minutes, UNC (4-0) also played tough in the midfield and on defense, scooping up 12 ground balls and winning the draw-control battle, 7-5.

“They’re scrappy, hard-working, physical,” Ortega said of UNC’s defense. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we did today without them.”

That backline was even better after halftime, allowing just two Maryland goals. Moreno, a junior, tallied five of her six saves in the second half, and UNC finished the game with seven forced turnovers.

Levy and her staff also challenged the offense to match their defense’s intensity in the second half. Once that started, the veteran coach said, things really broke open.

North Carolina rattled off three consecutive goals to start the second half, boosting its lead to 10-4, and never looked back. Growney (six goals), Hoeg (four) and Ortega (four) all played their part, but so did complenentary scorers such as Tayler Warehime and Ally Mastroianni.

“A total team effort,” Growney said. “We really killed it.”

And about that gas pedal mantra? When Maryland’s Hannah Warther scored at the 16:22 mark — cutting UNC’s lead to 12-6 — the Tar Heels promptly rattled off the game’s last seven goals to squash any rumblings of a comeback ... and then some.

“We just really didn't want to let up on anything, give them any spark of hope (that) we were stopping or slowing down,” Growney said.

The Terrapins, who had their fair share of attrition from last year’s national championship roster, dropped consecutive games for the first time since Cathy Reese took over the program in 2007. After their loss, they made the short walk from the field to their busses for a mostly silent post-game meal.

The Tar Heels, meanwhile, danced to their alma mater, ate cheeseburgers, hugged family members and signed autographs galore for young fans at a celebratory tailgate.

There was room to improve before next weekend’s ACC opener at Virginia, Levy conceded, but there was also time to celebrate the historic victory. Her players agreed.

“I just had the best time of my life out there, to be honest,” Hoeg said.

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