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M. Soccer: UNC gets record win with stellar defense

Billy Schuler had four shots during UNC’s 2-1 victory against Duke on Friday. DTH/Reyna Desai
Billy Schuler had four shots during UNC’s 2-1 victory against Duke on Friday. DTH/Reyna Desai

With the score 1-0 against No. 11 Duke, midfielder Cameron Brown booted a shot headed over the goal.

Dip, dip, dip, he commanded.

It did, the scoreboard lit up and the crowds cheered.

The only problem?

The ball hadn’t gone in the goal.

“I knew it was over and high, and that’s why I was dropping straight back,” he said. “It guess it was a little tough for everyone else to see up there.”

No goal, no problem.

Minutes later, he netted the game-winning goal for a 2-1 victory and UNC’s (4-0-1) fourth straight victory over Duke.

His goal delivered a blow to Duke’s unbeaten streak and secured an addition to UNC’s record books.

“It’s unbelievable,” Brown said. “Feeling like the basketball team, you know?”

North Carolina maintained its unbeaten streak en route to winning its first two ACC matches for the first time since 1987 and fourth straight against Duke for the first time since the 1954-1955 seasons.

It came against a Blue Devils team that entered the contest with a 4-0 record.

“We knew it was going to be a close game,” coach Elmar Bolowich said. “Duke, defensively, is very strong. It was a true test run in this game, and our boys did extremely well.”

The Blue Devils’ defensive reputation may have preceded them, but North Carolina’s unit proved to be more successful.

UNC held Duke without a score — or a shot — in the first half.

North Carolina’s defense allowed the Blue Devils’ only goal with 12 minutes remaining in the second half.

But the pressure didn’t start with the team’s defenders, Bolowich said.

“It starts with our forwards,” he said. “We were putting so much pressure on (Duke), it was hard for them to get into any kind of rhythm.”

Offensively, the North Carolina forwards capitalized off a tentative Duke defense, outshooting the Blue Devils 17-5.

“For whatever reason, Duke was dropping off and backing up and letting us play,” Brown said. “Right away, guys like myself and Zach Loyd and Billy Schuler were saying, ‘Let’s keep the ball right in front of their defense.’”

The strategy proved to be successful.

Schuler buried the team’s first strike midway through the first half.

From 20 yards out, he took a left-footed shot that glanced off the left post and past the Duke goalkeeper.

Schuler also helped engineer the game-winning goal when he found Alex Walters at the top of the penalty box with 22 minutes remaining in the game.

Walters sent the pass between two defenders to give Brown the open shot.

“I saw the keeper slide to the near post,” Brown said. “I hit it as hard as I could to the back post.

“For a while there it got interesting. We’re just happy to hold them off and continue to be unbeaten.”

View photos from the game.

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