Tar Heels step up in absence of Craven, Lovejoy
With the No. 4 North Carolina men’s soccer team notching wins this weekend against Monmouth on Friday and Coastal Carolina Monday morning, it appears the season opened exactly as planned.
That’s hardly the case.
“We had to reshuffle the first and second day of preseason,” coach Carlos Somoano said. “We were like ‘Oh my gosh, we gotta come up with a new plan.”’
He was referring to senior forwards Andy Craven and Rob Lovejoy who were supposed to anchor the Tar Heel attack. After both suffered season-ending injuries, Somoano decided to experiment with Tyler Engel.
And so far, the junior striker’s trial run has gone well.
Engel scored the winning goal in UNC’s 1-0 overtime victory against Monmouth and began the scoring in its 4-0 rout of No. 13 Coastal Carolina on Monday .
“Tyler has embraced that (role) and done a wonderful job, so clearly he was a key to this weekend in terms of two game-winning goals.”
Engel — who was originally brought in to create goal-scoring opportunities — said he enjoys his new role on the front line.
“I’ve been working really hard this offseason, trying to stay focused all summer long,” he said.
“I’m very happy with the way I’ve been playing.”
Raby George, Glen Long and Jordan McCrary also stepped up in their teammates’ absence and all scored against Coastal Carolina. Omar Holness, Alex Walters , Marco Sunol and Colton Storm added assists..
Coming into the season, the replacement of four-year keeper Scott Goodwin was a mystery. However, as each game passes it seems more likely that Brendan Moore will be the go-to man in goal.
“Well Brendan has started two for two games,” Somoano said. “Right now he has done a great job, so there’s no sense in making any changes.”
Moore did come out of the box and mishandled a few balls Friday, but just two days later, he was noticeably calmer. He punched a number of corner kicks away, elevating nicely throughout the game and showcasing his comfort in the cage.
“I think with the goalkeeper position, a leadership role does come with that,” Moore said after Friday’s game. “So I’m working my way into that spot now.
“It needs to be (natural). Seeing the whole field, I need to be able to instruct people and keep our guys calm when they need to be calm.”
Somoano takes a similiar approach.
“We take what we’ve got,” Somoano said. “We work with what we have and try to make it better and we try to squeeze everything out of everyday.”