With three seconds left on the clock and the score tied 1-1, forward Ryan Kneipper headed a long cross from Matt Crawford that slipped past St. Louis goalkeeper Martin Hutton to give No. 4 North Carolina the win.
"That was a little bit of desperation," Crawford said of his game-winning assist. "Ryan is usually in the same spot around the goal, so I just tried to get it to the far post, away from a lot of the defenders."
Crawford booted a diagonal pass from about 35 yards away from the goal as he dribbled down the left side of the field. The ball looped to a perfectly placed Kneipper, who was waiting five yards from the goal.
"There were 10 seconds left, so I knew Matt was going to serve it in," said Kneipper, who scored three goals this weekend. "He likes to put a lot of air under it. I was ready, and the other defenders just misjudged it. I got decent contact on the ball, and fortunately, it went in."
The goal gave the Tar Heels (2-0) a sweep of the Nike Carolina Classic. On Friday, UNC beat Akron (0-2) in another dramatic victory. Mike Gell nailed a direct kick into the net 32 seconds into the first overtime to give the Tar Heels a 2-1 win.
Earlier in that game, UNC took a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute on a Kneipper header off a free kick from David Testo. The Tar Heels lost the lead in the 43rd minute as UNC goalie Jay Batt, who was making his first collegiate start, mishandled a long Akron shot. The rebound was headed in by Will Kletzien of the Zips.
Waiting until the end of the game to strike is nothing new for the Tar Heels. Last year's national championship team had a stunning comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the last few minutes against Stanford in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
Where does this knack for late-game heroics come from? Coach Elmar Bolowich believes that avoiding frustration is one of the keys.
"You can be your own worst enemy," he said. "When you get frustrated, it festers. We focus on not harping on our mistakes. Our theme is, 'Go for the next one.'"
After Akron, the next one was No. 11 St. Louis, a team that UNC had never beaten. After tying Wake Forest on Friday at Fetzer Field, the Billikens (0-1-1) got off to a quick start against the Tar Heels, scoring in the second minute. Joe Hammes lofted a long pass to Mike Kirchhoff, who headed the ball past Batt.
UNC tied the game in the last minute of the first half after a Mike Gell shot ricocheted off Hutton to a waiting Kneipper, who then tapped the ball into the wide-open net. The second half remained scoreless until Crawford-to-Kneipper ended the Billikens' hopes.
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