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Schuler out for ACC opener vs. N.C. State

Billy Schuler will sit out tonight’s game against N.C. State with an injury to his right shoulder. Schuler led the team last season with nine goals.
Billy Schuler will sit out tonight’s game against N.C. State with an injury to his right shoulder. Schuler led the team last season with nine goals.

The North Carolina men’s soccer team kicks off conference play Friday night with a trip to N.C. State.

But if the No. 4 Tar Heels (1-1-0) are to avenge their penalty-kick loss to the Wolfpack in last year’s ACC Tournament, they’re going to have to do it without All-ACC forward Billy Schuler.

The senior preseason All-American re-injured his right shoulder Sunday against Seton Hall after colliding with the opposing goalie late in the game.

Coach Elmar Bolowich says Schuler’s status going forward will be determined by the end of the weekend.

“That’s huge,” redshirt senior midfielder Stephen McCarthy said. “Our attack will definitely be depleted, but I think we could put some other players in there and hopefully we can figure it out.”

Despite Schuler’s injury, the Tar Heels will still have a massive edge in experience over host N.C. State.

The Wolfpack (1-1-0) returns just four starters from a 2009 team that qualified for the NCAA tournament before being eliminated at home by Portland in the second round.

Just six other members of the Wolfpack saw playing time last season, causing coach George Tarantini to start five freshmen in a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 13 Louisville on Sunday.

“I hope the experience does factor, that’s what I’m counting on,” Bolowich said. “Hopefully we will be a little more mature in the play.”

One place the Wolfpack does have some experience is along the back line. Despite losing Korede Aiyegbusi to the MLS SuperDraft, N.C. State boasts a pair of defenders with a combined 109 starts in seniors Tyler Lassiter and Lucas Carpenter.

The unit has additional promise with the arrival of high school All-American and Durham native Sonny Mukungu, who played club soccer for a team Bolowich coached.

“He’s a wonderful kid.” Bolowich said. “He’s a great individual, he’s very, very athletic and he’s very brave. And with that combination, you can go a long way.”

Friday’s contest marks the first of eight matches for the Tar Heels in one of the most competitive college soccer leagues in the nation.

Last season, seven of the conference’s nine teams qualified for the 48-team NCAA Tournament and three — including UNC — made it to the College Cup.

This year, five league members are currently ranked in the top 10 of the NSCAA/Adidas rankings.

“The ACC games, they always are tough games,” Bolowich said. “They know us inside-out, they know how we play. They’re making their adjustments. I expect a close game.”Contact the Sports Editor

at sports@unc.edu.

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