Offense does the heavy lifting for No. 8 UNC men's soccer in 3-2 win
CARY – The goals have been coming by the bunches for the North Carolina men’s soccer team this season.
Entering Wednesday, the No. 8 Tar Heels were averaging 2.80 goals per contest, tied for the fifth-highest mark in Division I. Meanwhile, defense has been a work in progress.
Through six games, the Tar Heels have yet to record a shutout, something they did in four of their first six matches a year ago. All of that was illustrated on Wednesday night, as eighth-ranked UNC won, 3-2, against William & Mary in Cary at WakeMed Soccer Park, with its offense once again doing the heavy lifting as the Tar Heels improved to 5-1 (1-0 ACC).
Despite UNC leading 1-0 and 2-1, a skilled and determined William & Mary squad drew even on two different occasions, with the second equalizing goal coming in 69th minute.
Four minutes later, senior forward Alan Winn provided the game-winning goal for the Tar Heels. It was his second score of the night.
Like any head coach, UNC’s Carlos Somoano prefers lamenting what his team could have done better after a win, as opposed to a loss.
Even still, his team’s defensive struggles against the Tribe resulted in frustration on his part, and he knows immediate improvement is needed.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to make plays,” he said. “You’ve got to outcompete your opponent. You’ve got a one-versus-one situation. He wins or you win. Sometimes, that’s what it comes down to.”
There has been attrition at key positions. A year ago, seniors Colton Storm and Walker Hume helped anchor a back line that helped UNC reach the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. With both of those stalwarts gone, UNC has had to retool a bit defensively.
Regardless, junior defender Alex Comsia isn’t making any excuses. His disappointment with the two goals conceded in Wednesday’s win showed just that.
“Obviously it’s never a good performance if you give up two goals,” he said. “If you give up one goal, it’s not good enough. So we spoke about it. It’s just teams are getting one chance right now and putting them in the net so we’ve got to clean that up.”
The ACC slate is just one game old, but the going is about to get tougher for UNC.
An upcoming game against rival No. 23 Duke looms, and after that the Tar Heels’ next two conference matches come against No. 12 Virginia, and N.C. State, which recently proved its worth with an upset victory over No. 10 Clemson.
With first-year Alec Smir starting at goalkeeper for UNC on Wednesday, the Tar Heels have now started three different players in goal this season because of injuries. James Pyle, the team’s starter last season, and Drew Romig have each started multiple games.
In regards to his team’s defensive woes, Somoano agreed with Comsia, who believed the mistakes being made are correctable.
“It’s will and desire,” Somoano said. “It’s a choice. You’ve got to make a choice to defend harder.”
Saturday’s game against Duke gives UNC little time to reflect upon Wednesday’s win. And according to Winn, the Tar Heels will have to be ready for a challenging match.
“Just another tough opponent,” he said. “They’re definitely having a good season, but we want to stay consistent with the teams we play, because every team we play is good and that’s our outlook.”
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