After blanking Colorado in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, goalie Samantha Leshnak has registered four consecutive clean sheets for North Carolina women's soccer. But she still worries her coach.
“Sam has had a fabulous year,” Anson Dorrance said. “The only time we’re in some sort of jeopardy is when she thinks for a second or two that she’s playing for Barcelona and decides to roll it out to one of our center backs who has players on both sides of her. Fortunately, in this game, she only thought we were Barcelona twice.”
Barcelona or not, Leshnak made three saves to earn a 1-0 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. “I think Colorado is a fantastic team,” Leshnak said. “They were a good team, and we really respected them.”
Bridgette Andrzejewski’s finish off a deflection in the 26th minute proved to be the game winner for the Tar Heels, who advanced to play Princeton Sunday. “I was just at the right place at the right time,” Andrzejewski said.
Princeton beat N.C. State in penalty kicks before North Carolina took the field, much to the ire of the Tar Heel head coach. “Find out who the genius was that allowed us to play late in the night and the team that was behind us in the seeding got to play in warmer weather,” Dorrance said. “Someone explain that to me.”
Nevertheless, the Tar Heels caught a glimpse of their third-round opponent from the Ivy League.
“Just like this team, they’re not ranked high,” Andrzejewski said. “But it’s the NCAA playoffs, so everyone’s going to bring their 100 percent.”
North Carolina has appeared to bring its 100 percent in both NCAA Tournament games thus far. The Tar Heels dominated the time of possession and shots on goal (8-3) against Colorado, even if the scoreboard didn’t indicate it.
The game before, the Tar Heels whipped High Point 3-0 while not allowing a single shot by the Panthers. And with a head coach that has claimed 22 of a possible 36 national championships, North Carolina has experience to match its talent. So the no. 1 seed Tar Heels look to be in prime shape to take home another trophy.
Just as long as their goalie remembers she’s playing in the NCAA Tournament and not the Champions League.
Photos by Alex Kormann