As out of sync as the Tar Heels looked, they still had opportunities. Less than four minutes into the game, sophomore midfielder Jeremy Kelly brought the ball up on the right sideline. Kelly looked to the middle and curved the ball in that direction. The trajectory carried it to the back of the post, where senior forward Alan Winn extended his leg just enough to get a touch on the ball.
However, his momentum caused the ball to go back into the penalty box and cleared from danger by an Indiana defender.
Early in the second half, the Hoosiers broke the ice of an 0-0 game. Junior midfielder Trevor Swartz lined up for Indiana’s first and only corner kick and curled the ball right in front of the back post. It was a perfect delivery, and the Tar Heel defenders stood in horror as All-Big 10 junior defender Andrew Gutman tapped the ball into the back of the net.
After the goal, the Hoosiers were content to sit back and hold on to the team’s 18th shutout of the year. Every time a Tar Heel player seemed to find space, he would be drowned by a sea of red.
In the 89th minute UNC had its best chance to score. Senior forward Zach Wright received the ball at the top right of the box and immediately cut to the endline. Having beaten his man, Wright looked up and found first-year forward Lucas del Rosario laying in wait. Wright crossed the ball and del Rosario extended his foot just enough to make contact.
But his positioning was just to the right of the goal and the ball went wide, taking with it the Tar Heels last hopes of triumph.
“I’m proud of this team and sad to see this season come to an end," Somoano said. "Not because we lost, but because I’m going to have to say goodbye to some of these guys."
He will be saying goodbye to Wright, the speedy winger who finished the season with four goals and 11 assists, second most on the team. Three more seniors will also depart, most notably Winn, a second-team All-American who had a team-high 11 goals in his memorable senior campaign.
“What is there not to remember?” Winn said. “Everyday in practice, every off day, everything we do together — it’s something indescribable that we do as a team. It’s unbelievable to be on this team.”
The Tar Heels will have nine returning starters, including first-team All-American Cam Lindley, who finished the season with a team-high 13 assists — the most in a single season for UNC since Matt Crawford's school-record 16 in 2002.
“I think the underclassmen, the guys that we have coming back next year, and the freshmen will continue to cherish the relationships we have and build on it,” said Lindley. “Here at North Carolina, we’re a family and that doesn’t change year to year.”
For now, the Tar Heels will return home in disappointment, and Somoano will say his goodbyes to a team that he called one of his favorites.
“You don’t replace seniors,” said Somoano. “You just don’t. Those guys gave us their heart and all their emotions.”