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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels squeak out conference win

Brian Shriver scored his 12th goal this season Saturday against Virginia Tech" a win that took the Tar Heels to third in the conference.

Virginia Tech needed less than five minutes to undo 45 minutes of dominance by the North Carolina soccer team Saturday.

Hokie midfielder James Gilson wasted no time cutting the Tar Heels' 2-0 intermission lead in half with an unassisted goal less than two minutes after play resumed.

Gilson erased the deficit completely five minutes later when he banged in a penalty kick after a UNC foul in the box.

And with that the No. 10 Tar Heels were tied with the worst team in the ACC" with nearly an entire period to play.

""Shock"" senior Garry Lewis said of the moment. It was a wake-up call and just time for us to turn it up.""

The Tar Heels (11-2-1" 3-2 ACC) didn't do exactly that but they were able to scrape by the Hokies (5-8-1" 0-6 ACC) after a VT own goal in the 56th minute proved to be the game-winner as on a frigid night at Fetzer Field.

The moment that put UNC ahead — a Jordan Graye cross that was deflected into the goal by a Virginia Tech defender — was fitting as North Carolina was unable to establish a rhythm for most of the night.

""It was a difficult team to play"" coach Elmar Bolowich said. They played very direct — long all the time — so you constantly had to build from your own 18.""

That made it difficult for the Tar Heels to establish a tempo on offense and forced them to defend too much" Bolowich said.

The subpar play did not prevent UNC from building a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead in the first half.

Seniors Lewis and Brian Shriver each scored in the opening period and the Tar Heels dominated the shot count" eight to one.

But scrappy Virginia Tech made that stat irrelevant with its furious rally to start the second period.

And Bolowich said he was never worried for his team. Lewis was no different.

""We have a fire" he said. If we're tied with a team" we're not scared. We always believe we're going to win.""

North Carolina will need that fire and improved play if the team hopes to successfully navigate its last four games of the regular season. The Tar Heels have a week off before playing Clemson"" followed by a trip to nearby rival Campbell.

UNC will finish its season with a visit from No. 1 Wake Forest and a road date with No. 6 Maryland.

""These next four games will test us to the limit"" Bolowich said. Everything needs to tighten up.""

But Graye said the team is inviting the challenge that faces them.

""We want to bring forth our best effort"" he said. These are the games we live for.""

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