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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels head to College Cup

Soccer team returning to Final Four

Sophomore midfielder Kirk Urso struck his fourth goal of the season in UNC’s NCAA victory.
Sophomore midfielder Kirk Urso struck his fourth goal of the season in UNC’s NCAA victory.

Kirk Urso felt good shooting from long range on Friday.

The sophomore midfielder, who has been known to shoot immediately off corners and from well outside the box, bounced a shot off the crossbar from 40 yards out in the first half.

But the next long shooting chance he got, he netted.

Urso found the ball at his feet after a corner kick, courtesy of junior midfielder Michael Farfan, about 23 yards from goal.

And as he’s done in the past, of course he shot it.

“Whenever I get the chance to strike one from out there, I’m looking for it,” Urso said. “I’ve had a few goals this year (from distance), and that’s one of my strengths, so I try to hit them from there. I don’t think they expected me to shoot from there. They were probably expecting a cross from that angle.”

The ball knuckled a little bit off of his foot and lasered past Drake keeper Jordan Kadlec to give the Tar Heels the first tally of the game.

It would later become a 2-1 UNC victory.

While the shot might have caught the goalie off-guard, his teammates have come to expect shots like that from Urso.

“The first game this season, he scored from like 40 yards out, so it’s nothing new to us,” Alex Dixon said.

“He does that in practice, so we’re just used to it.”

Soon after that, Dixon followed up with a score of his own off a counterattack.

The North Carolina defense, which has only given up multiple goals in a game twice all season, needed no extra cushion and locked down the Drake attack.

“It was just a matter of getting a few more goals out of this to make it a little easier on ourselves,” UNC head coach Elmar Bolowich said.

“I think overall we defended pretty well, and we attacked pretty well. Drake is a potent team that scored some goals this season.”

The game was arguably the team’s best performance in the NCAA tournament. UNC squelched Drake’s powerful attack and created sundry chances of their own.

North Carolina’s 16-6 shot advantage tells the whole story of its offensive proficiency in the game.

“I thought for the most part of the game we controlled the tempo and did what we had to do,” Bolowich said.

“We just couldn’t get the goals in the first half while we had the chances to do so.”

The Tar Heels did give up a late goal to Drake. The Bulldogs pressed forward in an attempt to cobble together two goals to save their season.

Tempers flared at points in the game. The two teams garnered five yellow cards on the match.

“You don’t become a tough competitor like a lot of our guys and not have it boil over once in a while,” Drake coach Sean Holmes said. “Luckily, I thought the ref did a good job of controlling it at the end.”

The unheralded hero of the game was Farfan, who launched Dixon’s counterattack by taking a cross directly off his head and set up Urso’s strike.

While he did not get an assist for starting the counterattack, the play would not have happened without him.

North Carolina now moves on to the College Cup in Cary next weekend. The first opponent for UNC is undefeated and untied Akron.

“I think it’s great that finally we can make it in there, because twice in the same situation it was in Cary in 2005 and in Charlotte in 2000,” Bolowich said.

“Both times we were in the quarterfinals and lost at home and never made it into a College Cup that was in North Carolina. Finally now we’ve broke the ice, and we’re in, and we’re delighted.”

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