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NCAA Week in Review: Anson Dorrance gets 1,000th career win

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance earned his 1000th career win on Sunday. (photo courtesy UNC/goheels.com)

The 2018 NCAA soccer season officially got underway on Thursday, and the first weekend of action was not without excitement, even with many big-name teams opening their schedules against smaller programs. As a result, some schools opened with big wins, while others struggled and even suffered early upsets. And one legendary coach hit yet another milestone in his career. 

First off, if you are like the many people who try to keep up with NCAA soccer but find the sheer volume of teams and matches to be totally daunting, fear not. We have a crash course on the NCAA season for you to read, and we suggest you focus in on these six teams this year to follow some intrigue.

Now, on with the opening-weekend action…

Stanford 5, UC Davis 0

The reigning national champions started their 2018 campaign with a flourish, putting away five unanswered goals against UC Davis. Not a big or important win in the grand scheme of things, but for Stanford to win so convincingly when other top teams struggled against similar competition gives the Cardinal’s top-ranking a little more clout. Stanford outshot UC Davis 20-1 in the competition, with Tierna Davidson opening up scoring in the 10th minute, and Alana Cook, Michelle Xiao, and Civana Kuhlmann all contributing goals as well. The fifth and final goal was an own goal by UC Davis goalkeeper Alexis Smith.

Penn State 1, WVU 0

In one of the biggest matchups of opening weekend, the No. 4 Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers, 1-0, on Friday night. The two teams remained deadlocked until the 80th minute, when sophomore midfielder Shea Moyer scored the game winner, also the first goal of her collegiate career. Goalkeeper Amanda Dennis made five saves on the night to earn the clean sheet.

UCLA 1, Long Beach State 0

Long Beach State gave the UCLA Bruins a lot more difficulty than many were expecting, holding the second-ranked team scoreless for almost the entirety of regulation. UCLA squeaked out the win though when, with only two seconds of regulation remaining, Hailie Mace evaded her defender and, despite being heavily pressured, put a low-rolling shot on target that slid past the goalkeeper and in for the dramatic game-winning finish.

Duke 1, Illinois 2

No. 3 Duke opened their season with a 2-0 win over Ohio State on Thursday night before dropping their second match, 1-2, to unranked Illinois on Sunday. Senior midfielder Taylor Racioppi scored her second goal in as many games in the 15th minute, tapping in a cross from Kayla McCoy. However, the Fighting Illini were able to level the score via Makena Kilber two minutes later, and an Ella Stevens own goal just before halftime put Illinois on top. A strong defensive battle and a lack of finishing—the Blue Devils only put five of their 17 total shots on frame in the match—prevented the Blue Devils from finding an equalizer before the final whistle.

UNC 2, Ohio State 0

The North Carolina Tar Heels opened the 2018 season with a 3-1 win over Illinois, but their 2-0 win over Ohio State on Sunday was more noteworthy as it was legendary head coach Anson Dorrance’s 1000th career win. Freshman substitute Brianna Pinto, joining the team after her stint with the U.S. in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, scored her first goal as a Tar Heel off a curling free kick in the 37th minute.

Junior forward Bridgette Andrzejewski then scored the insurance goal in the 58th minute to secure the win for UNC, although it was freshman midfielder Rachael Dorwart who pestered the Buckeyes the most, leading UNC with seven shots, five of which were on goal, on the day. Goalkeepers Samantha Leshnak and Claudia Dickey shared time between the posts for the Tar Heels, with Leshnak making three key saves in the opening half to earn the shutout.

Also noteworthy:

— Elon narrowly defeated Liberty, 5-4, on Friday night. Both teams scored two apiece in each half to send the game into overtime, with junior forward Taylor Paradoski scoring the golden goal in the 97th minute to hand Elon their first win of the year. Paradoski finished with a hat trick on the night.

— No. 18 Pepperdine dropped both of their first two matches, 1-0, losing first to Kansas on Friday night before falling to Texas Tech on Sunday.

— After losing their season opener, 0-1, to Penn State on Friday night, the West Virginia Mountaineers drew Arkansas, 1-1, on Sunday.

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