The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday January 22nd

Men's Soccer Set to Kick Off Postseason

They've been saying it all year long.

Since their first exhibition against Virginia Tech on Aug. 26, the North Carolina men's soccer team has proclaimed that it is talented enough to be a national success story.

"We all believe; we all have confidence that we can make the final four," defender Danny Jackson said after that game against the Hokies.

And the rest of the nation is starting to believe Jackson & Co. UNC is ranked second in the nation as it heads into the ACC tournament tonight at Wake Forest's Spry Stadium.

The Tar Heels play the winner of last night's Clemson-Wake Forest match at 8 p.m.

UNC (17-2, 5-1 in the ACC) has won 11 straight matches, dating back to a 3-1 loss to Virginia on Sept. 24. The Tar Heels are also the No. 1 seed in this weekend's postseason tourney.

Earlier in the week, the conference recognized a rejuvenated UNC program that was 6-13 just three years ago. Five Tar Heels were named to either the first or second All-ACC teams, while coach Elmar Bolowich was tabbed as the conference's coach of the year, and striker Chris Carrieri was titled player of the year.

Tonight, the Tar Heels will join the other remaining three ACC teams in Winston-Salem for the semifinals of the conference tournament.

As the top-ranked squad in the conference, UNC was afforded the only first-round bye in the seven-team tourney.

"You can use that to your advantage by speeding up the play and wearing the other team out," Bolowich said. "But the game of soccer is funny. The ball bounces funny - one brilliant shot from one of their players may just decide the game."

It is that minimal margin for error that makes postseason play, especially in a conference as strong as the ACC, so unlike the regular season.

"I believe that (the ACC) is the best conference in the U.S.," Carrieri said. "I feel like this game coming up tomorrow is like a final four game."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.



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