Senior captain Jordan Gafa said the backline, which also features Boyd Okwuonu, Jonathan Campbell and Jordan McCrary, values keeping possession more than making flashy passes that could be intercepted.
“We always want to transition into our offense with our defense,” Gafa said. “If we win a ball, our first look is always forward. If it has to go over the top, run in behind, we’ll do that, but we always want to keep the ball first.”
The Tar Heels have allowed just 0.3 goals per game in 2012 and entered Tuesday’s contest ranked second in Division I in goals against average.
McCrary said the Tar Heel defense takes pride in the fact that it has only allowed three goals this season.
“Keeping the ball away from (the opponent) is what we want to do and we showed that,” McCrary said.
When Georgia Southern got power behind its few chances, it was defenders Campbell and Okwuonu who sacrificed their bodies to keep the ball in front, not goalkeeper Scott Goodwin.
That ability to prevent shots on goal from reaching Goodwin — UNC’s career leader in shutouts — has helped UNC shut out four of its last five opponents.
Gafa said the defensive unit is always in sync.
“Our spacing is very important to us, being in tune with the guy next to you, (Okwuonu), Jonathan and Jordan,” Gafa said. “It’s very natural back there, and it’s very comfortable playing with all four of us back there. It’s a lot of natural movements and we won’t have to say much unless we see runners coming through.”
At times, the Tar Heels’ offense takes a while to get going, as it did against Georgia Southern. The defense has consistently stood stout behind them.
“They put in an honest shift every game,” Somoano said. “Game in and game out they’re very competitive.”
Contact the desk editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.