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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC edges Wofford in overtime

Urso’s goal lifts Tar Heels to win

UNC midfielder Michael Farfan battles with Wofford’s Alex Hutchins. The Tar Heels’ offense didn’t score a goal until the closing minutes of the game.
UNC midfielder Michael Farfan battles with Wofford’s Alex Hutchins. The Tar Heels’ offense didn’t score a goal until the closing minutes of the game.

In its two ACC games this season, the No. 3 North Carolina men’s soccer team dominated play in the midfield but did just enough in front of the goal to eke out a pair of 1-0 victories.

In nonconference action Tuesday night against Wofford, UNC’s bad habit very nearly did the Tar Heels in, but a late equalizer and an extra-time winner saved the day, as the Tar Heels avoided the upset and pulled out a heart-stopping 2-1 overtime victory at Fetzer Field.

Though the Tar Heels needed overtime to pull out the win, coach Elmar Bolowich expected a better performance from his third-ranked squad against their Southern Conference opposition.

Wofford came into Tuesday’s game with a record of 1-3-1, with the only victory coming against winless USC Upstate.

“In the end, you can be pleased that we escaped with a win, but overall, I must say that with that kind of focus we cannot win games,” Bolowich said.

Despite controlling possession and creating numerous scoring opportunities throughout the game’s first 70 minutes, the Tar Heels (4-1) found themselves still searching for a goal when Wofford’s Armin Kinigadner earned a penalty after being tackled by UNC defender Brett King.

On the ensuing penalty kick, UNC goalie Scott Goodwin dove right, Kinigadner shot left and the Terriers suddenly held an improbable 1-0 lead.

“We know we came out soft,” sophomore midfielder Enzo Martinez. “We know that, so it’s no need to keep saying it, keep saying it. We all know what we did wrong, and it was very frustrating that that happened.”

But just as it appeared the Terriers were about to steal a victory, UNC found the goal it had been so desperately seeking. With less than three minutes remaining, UNC freshman Bruno Castro played a cross into the Wofford box. The ball took a deflection off a Terrier defender and wound up at the feet of UNC’s Eddie Ababio, who smacked the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net to send the game into overtime.

“I remember looking at the clock, and it was actually going by so slow because I was looking at it so much,” Martinez said. “When I saw that going in, it was a great feeling.”

The game’s second tie score didn’t last nearly as long as its first. Just four and a half minutes into overtime, UNC midfielder Kirk Urso drew a foul attempting to receive a through ball from Ababio at the edge of the Wofford 18-yard box.

A dead-ball specialist, Urso saw an opening in the Wofford defense and decided to strike.

“I looked and the goalie was just in the center of the goal and the wall was set up to my right,” Urso said. “So the whole left side was open, and I was surprised that the goalie wasn’t standing there. So I’m like, ‘Okay, well I’ll just shoot it right to the left.’”

Urso calmly struck the ball left of the Wofford wall and into the back of the net, giving UNC a sudden-death victory by the skin of its teeth.

Though Urso, Martinez and Bolowich all said they were frustrated with the way the team let the Terriers hang around, Urso thinks Tuesday’s close call will make the Tar Heels better in the long run.

“I think it’s something that we can learn from and work on in practice,” Urso said. “I think we need to learn to make more dissecting runs and attack more, just making more solid opportunities.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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