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The Daily Tar Heel

Fancy footwork from sophomore

soccer
UNC sophomore Cameron Brown dribbles past the Old Dominion keeper for his first career goal in 2007. ?He has such a passion"? assistant coach Jeff Negalha said. ?As a coach you just go ?Wow this is a special individual.??

It's a fall afternoon practice at Finley Fields and the North Carolina men's soccer team is in the midst of an 11 vs. 11 scrimmage.

The ball pings around the field until it arrives on the right foot of sophomore Cameron Brown 30 yards from goal.

As he pushes forward senior Brian Shriver overlaps Brown heading on a direct course towards the near post.

Shriver is wide-open and appears to be in a golden position for a scoring opportunity.

But Brown doesn't give the slightest glance his eyes solely focused on the three defenders converging on him.

The first to arrive classmate Dustin McCarty stretches out his foot to poke the ball away.

Swoosh.

The ball is gone.

In the swiftest of motions" Brown effortlessly reached over the ball and backheeled it into space for a Shriver shot.

""He's a guy who has some of the best skill in the country" captain Michael Callahan said.

He's got that something different" that something you don't see in many players.""

It was just that ""something"" that got Brown to North Carolina in the first place.

Though Tar Heel head coach Elmar Bolowich and assistant Jeff Negalha had seen him play on several occasions" a particular tournament in Texas the Dallas Cup" left a lasting impression.

""A player of his quality at his young age was able to do things on and off the ball that really attracted the eye" Negalha said.

 He had the ability to take guys on his moves on the ball" and just his ability to connect and combine with his teammates. It just made you say ‘wow.'""

He arrived at North Carolina in the summer of 2007 as the No. 1 incoming midfielder by Student Sports Magazine and a top-10 player by ESPN The Magazine.

Problem was" he also was recovering from an ACL tear 11 months prior.

And though his skill was back Brown said his fitness level had suffered immensely.

Bolowich could use him only sparingly in game play" so Brown spent most of his time on the bench.

""I was looking for the grind in him" Bolowich said. Could he sustain" could he be in the game for the duration that we play in?""

Gradually" Brown's stamina returned and when he did see time he was sure to make the most of it.

When the Tar Heels took to the field against Old Dominion his first year it was Brown who scored the team's first goal of the season.

He took a low cross from Bill Dworsky and cut past the ODU defender. As he raced forward the goalkeeper charged. Instead of hitting it Brown again opted to cut the ball from his right to his left foot.

A packed stadium looked on anticipating a chip over the keeper but Brown — to the incredulity of the fans and the goalie — feinted once more and dragged the ball back to his right.

As he lightly tapped it in" the Old Dominion goalie lay helplessly a full five yards away.

""You just never have any idea which way he's going with the ball or what he's going to do" Callahan said. Cutting the keeper like that one more time" wow.""

The goal sparked a massive ruckus"" as Brown led a gleeful group of Tar Heels down the sideline in front of the student section.

The whole time his jersey was raised upwards as Brown kissed and pointed to the blue-stitched ""Carolina"" across his chest.

""When I score I show everybody where I go to school" Brown said. I'm proud to be here" and I'm proud to represent my school.""

He's also proud to show fans the free-spirited play for which he's known.

He watches video of his favorite players constantly and mimics his own habits and play after their legendary styles.

""I like to say" ‘Hey" did you see that move?'"" Brown said of the tricks of Ronaldhino"" Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. ""Well if you didn't" here" I'll show you one in the match.

""People say" ‘You'll never actually do that in a game' so I like to actually do it and show people that I'm not afraid" that I have confidence doing those things.""



Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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