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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heel attack starts slowly against Terriers

Disconnected and continuously denied, the North Carolina offense just could not find its rhythm Tuesday night against Wofford’s men’s soccer team.

The young front line finally came through for the Tar Heels with just more than two minutes to spare as Eddie Ababio found the back of the net off a deflection from starting freshman Bruno Castro’s cross.

Although the goal sent the game into overtime, which led to the Tar Heels’ eventual 2-1 victory, the offensive production — and the lack thereof in the game’s first half — showcased what UNC has tried to overcome early this season.

“We’re trying to patch up what we’re missing right now,” UNC head coach Elmar Bolowich said. “It’s unfortunate that we’re missing three attacking players in Cam Brown, Alex Dixon and Billy Schuler.”

Redshirt freshman Josh Rice and Castro alternated filling Dixon’s cleats at the forward spot, as the junior rested a bruised quad sustained in last week’s game against Duke.

The two rotated in and out of play to join Ababio’s side in the attack, and the chemistry among them attested to the adjustments North Carolina’s offense has had to make so far this season.

Castro and Ababio are both filling in gaps in the front line by making major position changes. The former midfielder and left back, respectively, are continuing to work on their flow as the season and their experience together on the field progress.

“These guys need a little bit more time to mature in Division I soccer — to know how they can make an impact,” Bolowich said.

All five of North Carolina’s first-half shots came from the midfield line that kept UNC in possession for the majority of the game. But possession didn’t necessarily equate to production, as UNC entered halftime tied with the Terriers 0-0.

The offense struggled with Wofford’s keeper Andrew Drennan once more in the second half as shots continued to narrowly miss gaps in the goal or bounce off the crossbar.

Key shots at the right times made all the difference for the Tar Heels, especially for the front line.

“For (Ababio) to go from the left back to up top and doing what he’s doing, I applaud him. I really do,” sophomore Enzo Martinez said. “The people who are getting their chances are really taking advantage of it.”

Despite first half struggles, the attack is confident that it will find its place in UNC’s offense in the near future.

“We’ve been working together at practice with different combinations of strikers, so we don’t look sharp, but slowly we’re building chemistry and we’ll get there,” Ababio said. “We just need to make more runs, and our timing needs to get better.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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