Craven seeks his role in the offense

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Andy Craven made an impact Tuesday with an assist as he returns from a lingering injury.

This season, No. 2 North Carolina men’s soccer coach Carlos Somoano has alternated between playing with a lone striker, Martin Murphy, and partnering him with Andy Craven.

Murphy and Craven are tied for the team’s leading scorer with four goals each. But after Tuesday’s 1-0 win against Davidson, the junior transfer added his third assist of the season.

Murphy started Tuesday night against Davidson but only recorded one shot in the first half and was replaced by Craven in the 28th minute. Craven had an immediate impact, creating freshman Danny Garcia’s first collegiate goal later in the half.

Garcia, a freshman from Dallas, Texas, scored in style on a chip in the 41st minute when one-on-one with Davidson goalkeeper Matt Pacifici.

“It feels great getting my first career goal,” Garcia said. “It felt good for once not passing it and getting all the glory.”

A pass from Jordan Gafa reached Craven, who back-heeled the ball behind the Davidson defense for the sprinting Garcia, who had timed his diagonal run past the last defender perfectly.

“That was awesome for him to get his first goal,” Craven said. “I was excited to get him the ball and let him score.”

Just minutes before, Garcia shot wide from just outside the box and dribbled past two defenders before toe-poking his shot into the arms of Pacifici.

Craven attempted to add his name to the score sheet, firing five shots in the first 20 minutes of the second half.

He curled a shot just over the bar in the 49th minute and came even closer in the 62nd when he turned past a Davidson defender with his first touch and ripped a low shot with his second. But Pacifici dove to his right, deflecting the ball out for a corner kick.

“It was frustrating, but any time something like that happens you just have to take it with a grain of salt,” Craven said.

Two minutes later, Craven shrugged off a defender and again shot low from outside the box. The ball swerved past Pacifici but careened off the post for a goal kick.

Somoano brought Murphy back in with 15 minutes left because he said he thought Craven was fatigued.

“In the second half, I thought he was going to break through and get us a second goal, but then he started to fade,” Somoano said. “He’s going to have to get a little bit fitter and a little bit stronger.”

Murphy responded by creating two shots, although he couldn’t get either on target.

After North Carolina’s loss to James Madison and scoreless draw with Wake Forest in early September, Craven did not start in four of the past six games as he struggled with injuries.

But Somoano said he was pleased with Craven’s effort tonight as he is continuing to gel with the rest of the Tar Heel offense.

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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