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The Daily Tar Heel

Men’s soccer starts ACC play with win

Down by a goal after just 70 seconds into its ACC opener against N.C. State, the No. 3 North Carolina men’s soccer team regrouped and ultimately escaped with an ugly 2-1 victory Saturday night.

In a game that featured 11 shots on goal, 43 fouls and five cards, Michael Farfan’s 64th-minute goal provided the cushion UNC (3-0-1, 1-0-0 ACC) needed.

“That’s all it takes,” striker Enzo Martinez said. “It just something. It takes something, and he stepped up and he did it and he got us the W.”

The No. 18 Wolfpack (3-1-0) struck first, as striker Alan Sanchez jumped up to volley a ball played to him by Ronnie Bouemboue.

As soon as Sanchez kicked the ball, Tar Heel goalie Brooks Haggerty started to panic, and he was defenseless as the ball floated over his hand.

The Tar Heels drew even on a penalty kick, when Martinez darted into the penalty box, only to be taken down by the Wolfpack defender.

The referee pointed to the spot as Zach Loyd stepped in to take the penalty. He calmly beat the keeper to even the score.

“I don’t want to comment on the cards,” head coach Elmar Bolowich said. “I can comment on the intensity of the game. Neither team wanted to surrender anything, so it was really a dogfight.”

There was no clearer instance of the intensity than defender Eddie Ababio’s yellow card.

After the referee whistled him for a foul, Ababio stood up, yelled, and gestured at the referee. When the referee tried to motion him closer to give him a yellow card, he walked away defiantly.

The Tar Heels took the lead for good on an inspired play by Farfan.

The junior midfielder received a pass from Martinez a yard from the endline, cut back toward the middle to elude one defender, then shot between two defenders at the near post. The shot hit the inside of the post and went into the far side net.

Farfan was a deserving finisher on the goal, as his creative passing and steady ball handling controlled the attack all game for UNC.

“He stabilizes things,” Bolowich said. “When you find him on the field, he’s a good connector. He’s like an engine — he speeds up the play, slows down the play at the right moment.”

Farfan and Martinez thrived in their first ACC game, despite its physicality.

“This was by far the most physical game I’ve played in my whole life,” Martinez said. “All you can do is just work hard and give back to them what they’re giving you.”

UNC held on for the win in their the first ACC game of the season.

“It was very important,” Farfan said. “It was our first ACC game, and it just shows that we have good character and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”


Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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