It was a heated rivalry game. It was the season opener. It was her first game for UNC in over a year. In short, it was a big game for Jessie Scarpa and the UNC women’s soccer team. Yet Scarpa still didn’t realize her goal in the fourth minute of overtime had won the game for the Tar Heels.
“To be honest, I didn’t know the game was over,” Scarpa said. “I realized it when I looked around and saw everybody celebrating.”
Scarpa’s goal gave her team a 2-1 win over Duke in a home game played at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, where all the Tar Heels’ home games will be played while Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill is rebuilt as part of the university's athletic facilities plan.
“It was a little strange playing here, but our fans are awesome,” Scarpa said. “They made us feel right at home.”
Scarpa’s game-winner was set up by redshirt senior Joanna Boyles, whose two torn ACLs forced her to miss all of last season and some of the previous year. Boyles connected with Scarpa on a second cross attempt from the right side of the field after her first pass was deflected back to her. Scarpa headed Boyles’ cross off the far post and past the goal line for the winning score.
Boyles couldn’t have had a better return to the pitch, as her first-half free kick strike tied the game 1-1. “I know it was a great feeling for her,” Scarpa said of her teammate. “She’s worked so hard to get here.”
Even though the game was played about 25 miles from UNC’s campus, the stadium at WakeMed was packed with loud Tar Heel fans. The thunderous roar when Scarpa’s header was scored showed those fans realized the importance of the moment, even if Scarpa didn’t know it right away.