Current Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 19:41:02 -0400
The No. 2 North Carolina men’s soccer team was missing two of its top players Tuesday night, sophomores Boyd Okwuonu and Mikey Lopez, to the U-20 national team, but that didn’t faze coach Carlos Somoano or the rest of the team.
Instead, the Tar Heels (10-1-1, 4-0-1 ACC) found leaders in two other young guns, Danny Garcia and Alex Olofson, in their 1-0 defeat of Davidson (5-6-1).
Olofson, a freshman midfielder, got the first start of his career against the Wildcats. Olofson filled the spot of starting midfielder Lopez, who will be with the U-20s in Spain until Oct. 17.
“He did a great job,” junior transfer forward Andy Craven said. “He was key, especially in the second half. He would just win every 50-50 ball. He was just always there, pressuring the other midfielders. It was just really good, counting on him.”
After 40 minutes of scoreless play, freshman forward Garcia finally saw an opening.
Though he has five assists this season, Garcia had yet to score a goal in a Tar Heel uniform. But in the 41st minute on Tuesday night, it looked as if the motions were effortless.
After receiving a pass from Craven and Jordan Gafa, Garcia chipped a shot over the outstretched fingers of Davidson goalkeeper Matt Pacifici.
Garcia’s shot rolled off Pacifici’s fingertips and sailed into the goal, breaking the scoreless tie.
The shot was Garcia’s third of the night and second on target.
“Very pleased with Danny and his progress, and I’m glad he finally got rewarded with a goal,” Somoano said. “Despite the fact that he hasn’t scored prior, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been helping us tremendously.”
But Garcia was only one of UNC’s offensive weapons.
Though he didn’t get a place in the initial starting 11, Craven started the second half and came on strong. He took five shots in the opening minutes of the second half. Three of his shots were on goal.
“I think it took me a minute to get going, and we had a really good halftime talk and it got me fired up,” Craven said. “We were only up one-nil and I thought we needed to start kicking the offense into overdrive and score more goals.”
The absence of Okwuonu didn’t affect UNC’s defense, as the Tar Heels posted their third consecutive shutout and allowed Davidson to take only one shot in 90 minutes.
Though the score was close, UNC dominated the possession and never allowed Davidson to make a serious threat on the goal.
“Mikey’s a great player, (Okwuonu) is a great player and we’d like to have them, but we’re not in any way looking at what we don’t have, who we don’t have,” Somoano said. “We’re looking at who we do have, and we have a lineup out on the field who can get the job done as they’ve proved tonight.”
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