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The Daily Tar Heel

Men's soccer split pair of games

Stephen McCarthy goes up for a header against Seton Hall on Sunday. McCarthy scored UNC’s third goal against the Pirates in a rebound win after Friday’s home loss to the No. 1 Akron Zips.
Stephen McCarthy goes up for a header against Seton Hall on Sunday. McCarthy scored UNC’s third goal against the Pirates in a rebound win after Friday’s home loss to the No. 1 Akron Zips.

The North Carolina men’s soccer team began its 2010 season Friday night at Fetzer Field the way it ended in 2009 at the College Cup semifinals — with a loss to the Akron Zips.

But after falling to No. 1 Akron 3-0 on Friday night, they managed to rebound Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 victory against Seton Hall.

“Any time you come off of a loss, a win is great no matter how it comes about,” coach Elmar Bolowich said. “For me, the pleasing part was that we played considerably better.”

In last season’s College Cup, Akron needed 110 minutes and a penalty shootout to knock out UNC.

On Friday, the Zips scored the only goal they would need just eight minutes into the season opener when preseason All-American Kofi Sarkodie whipped a low cross into the box that teammate Eric Stevenson tapped in from six yards out.

From there, it was an uphill battle for the No. 4 Tar Heels, who were unable to score off a historically stingy Akron defense that allowed just 0.27 goals per game in 2009, the third-best mark in NCAA history.

Though the Tar Heels had their chances — they outshot Akron 14-6 on the evening — UNC appeared flummoxed in the attacking third as the Tar Heels took shot after shot that either sailed wide of the goal or landed softly in the waiting arms of Akron goalie David Meves.

“We have to just keep our composure in the final third, and when we do get chances, we have to score them,” All-American UNC midfielder Michael Farfan said.

The Tar Heels were markedly better in all aspects of the game in Sunday’s victory against Seton Hall. Nowhere was this improvement more noticeable than in the play of sophomore midfielder Enzo Martinez.

With Farfan in California to attend his mother’s wedding, Bolowich chose to shake things up by moving Martinez to a forward position sandwiched between the midfield and strikers Billy Schuler and Alex Dixon.

Martinez thrived in the new formation from the beginning and scored the game’s first goal in the 27th minute when he received a long pass down the sideline from junior right back Brett King, and he chipped the ball over the head of Seton Hall keeper Sean Carr and into the net.

By the time the final whistle blew, Martinez had given the Tar Heels a two-goal cushion off a give-and-go with Dixon and tallied an assist for good measure.
“I had the most fun I have ever had so far,” Martinez said. “Not because of the goals, but because we played as a team.”

His praise for his teammates was entirely appropriate. The Tar Heels dominated play all over the field, peppering the Seton Hall defense with a blistering 20 shots on goal.

Less than two minutes after Martinez’ 50th-minute strike put UNC ahead 2-0, Stephen McCarthy extended the Tar Heels’ lead to three by heading in a corner kick taken by Kirk Urso.

The header came after a backpost run by McCarthy that the two have been perfecting since the exhibition season.

The goal was also McCarthy’s first for UNC since transferring from UC-Santa Clara after the 2008 season.

Though Seton Hall managed to pull a goal back shortly afterward, redshirt freshman Josh Rice put the game permanently out of reach in the 82nd minute with his first collegiate regular-season goal.

“Friday was tough; it was a painful loss,” Martinez said. “You could see it in everyone’s face (Sunday) that we were ready for this. We weren’t out here to prove it to anyone but ourselves that we could do this.”

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