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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels Notch 2nd ACC Victory With Late Goal

The Tar Heels defeated N.C. State 2-1 Saturday at Fetzer Field. The win brings UNC up to 9-5, 2-2 in the ACC and most likely will eliminate the Wolfpack (4-9, 0-6) as a contender for this season's ACC title.

Less than two minutes after kickoff, senior midfielder Matt Crawford crossed a ball that prompted a header by Ryan Kneipper and ended in a Marcus Storey goal.

"It was a deflection and I kind of ran off of it and was able to be there at the right time to put it in," Storey said. "It was a nice cross, and then Kneipper headed it, and I was able to get it in."

The momentum didn't last, however. About 10 minutes after Storey's goal, N.C. State committed a foul in its goal box, giving UNC the chance to tally another point with a penalty kick. Forward David Testo rocketed a shot toward the left pocket, which Wolfpack goalkeeper Mitchell Watson anticipated and stopped.

Watson further aggravated the Tar Heels by consistently deflecting their shots during the first half. Of the total 25 UNC shots that found the frame, Watson saved 13. He continues to lead the ACC in saves with 75.

But Watson's performance did not chill the Tar Heel squad, which continued to outshoot the Wolfpack, ending the first half with 13 shots to N.C. State's three.

UNC opened the second half without the offensive prowess of Storey, who sat out for a good portion, primarily due to an injured shoulder that gave him trouble during the first half.

In the 67th minute, defender David Stokes attempted unsuccessfully to pass the ball to junior midfielder Logan Pause. N.C. State's Bryant Salter intercepted the pass and converted a one-on-one with freshman goalkeeper Ford Williams. The goal tied the score 1-1.

"This is one of the games where you don't use your chances and you get the second and third goal and you let a team hang on," said UNC coach Elmar Bolowich. "The team is with its back to the wall, they're smelling something, they're smelling an upset, they're getting their second wind. They're making it more difficult for us.

"Based on the chances that you have in the first half, beginning of the second half, this game should be well out of reach."

Both teams played a physical match in a game riddled with yellow cards. State was issued three warnings, while UNC received two.

N.C. State's midfielder Brandon Fair received a red card in the 80th minute of the game after tackling Storey from behind just outside the Wolfpack's goalbox.

"The ball went over my head and Marcus went down and got it, and he had the ball shielded from the defender," Kneipper said. "The guy just came in from behind him and took Marcus' leg out with no intention for the ball."

Fair was ejected from the game, and per NCAA rules required to leave the field for the remainder of the match. State played a man down for the following 10 minutes.

The missing person did little to spark or deter UNC's offense as the team continued to struggle with its chances.

Then, with 13 seconds left, a Crawford shot found the frame with a little assistance from the shin of Wolfpack midfielder Isreal Mejia.

With less than a minute on the clock, midfielder Ray Fumo prepared to take the corner kick initiated by Watson after he punched a UNC shot out of bounds.

Fumo's shot lifted to Crawford, who instantly shot the ball toward the goal. The ball glided easily toward the goal, its only potential threat Mejia, who accidentally assisted the ball in the direction of State's net. A helpless Watson stood nearby, out of position to make the save.

The win gave UNC a confidence boost as the team looks to a nonconference home match at 7 p.m. against George Mason on Tuesday.

Kneipper said that while he isn't overlooking Tuesday's game, he's more concerned with Thursday's ACC matchup with Wake Forest.

"Wake Forest is our next target.," Kneipper said. "If we can pull off a win there, I think its really going to spark the postseason for us.

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