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The Daily Tar Heel

Crawford Leads UNC to Victory

Staff Writer

Locked in a 1-1 stalemate with overtime 13 seconds away, North Carolina senior Matt Crawford had a chance to give the Tar Heels a win against N.C. State.

With the clock ticking down at Fetzer field Saturday night, he jockied for position in the State penalty area.

Ray Fumo sent the corner kick into the crowded box. The ball found Crawford, and he converted his chance for the game-winning score.

"I just don't like to lose in anything," Crawford said. "I just want to take every opportunity I can to influence the game."

And it's competition like that Crawford feeds off of.

"I've always been a competitive person," Crawford said. "I always want to do better than the average guy."

Crawford, who lives with teammate Ryan Kneipper, has even been known to influence games other than soccer.

"It gets a little intense in our house sometimes when we play games," Kneipper said. "He plays backgammon with one of my roommates, and they had to stop playing because it got so intense."

But this time as the ball descended upon the co-captain of the UNC men's soccer team, Crawford left the ball's course to chance.

"I mean, I was shooting the ball," Crawford said. "But with all those people in front of the goal, you can catch a lucky ball and anything can happen."

Crawford's shot deflected off State forward Israel Mejia, causing it to go to the left of Wolfpack goalkeeper Mitchell Watson, who dove to his right.

Crawford's sole focus was to drive the ball past Watson in whatever manner necessary, assuming Fumo could provide a good serve.

"All I wanted to do, and all I was thinking was just to keep it away from the keeper," Fumo said. "I knew if I could pass it like that then the big guys would put it in."

The pass curled in to the box and found Crawford, who ripped the shot on net, scoring his fourth goal of the year.

Crawford also assisted on the Tar Heels' first score with a one-touch pass to Marcus Storey two minutes into the game. The assist was his 11th of the season, giving him the ACC lead.

Although Crawford connected early on in the match, with a locked score he couldn't connect with anyone.

"Sometimes we panic when we're down by one, or when we're tied," Crawford said. "We just had to talk to each other. I told them to keep their heads and keep control. We didn't want to panic."

With the game winning shot, Crawford displayed control and focus, which is consistently evident to his teammates.

"He's a great leader on the field," said Kneipper. "He's the workhorse of the team. He's the engine that keeps us going when it comes to leading the team."

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