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UNC men's soccer team beats Maryland for first time since 2003

There are many clichés that apply to the North Carolina men’s soccer victory against Maryland on Friday.

Getting the monkey off their back. Getting over the hump. A long time coming.

But no phrase can properly describe the emotions and feelings pulsing through the Tar Heel players as they celebrated their first victory against the Terrapins since 2003.

The history between the two programs has been rich of late. In 2008, the two met during the regular season, the ACC Tournament and in the finals of the College Cup. Maryland won all three by one goal each.

But this game had a different feel. UNC was confident it could beat the team that seemed just out of reach for so long. The difference for this team likely began in the summer when its senior leaders decided the 2010 season was going to be unique.

“We have a special group of seniors,” senior forward Eddie Ababio said. “Four of us stayed here all summer, got the guys back early and started training a month before the season started.”

Though Michael Farfan’s penalty kick in the 52nd minute was the difference-maker in what would be a 2-1 game, the hard work and bonding during the summer contributed to a win this time around.

The Tar Heels have the talent to have a great season, but it’s the chemistry among the players that could make this season special.

“There was about nine or 10 of us that stayed over the summer that would just play, and we created this bond that is special,” senior defender Dustin McCarty said.

The victory against Maryland wasn’t the only streak broken. UNC’s 3-0 start in ACC play is the first since 1967.

But that is just a statistic to UNC coach Elmar Bolowich, something that he doesn’t like to get hung up on. For now, he would just like to focus on one game at a time.

“Any ACC opponent is a tough opponent,” Bolowich said. “But in the end, it’s the will to win that will prevail, no matter how you play, whether you are playing poor, or whether you are playing well.”

Bolowich is either masking his optimism for the season or doesn’t have the same feeling that many of his players have.

McCarty, Farfan and Ababio all said that this season feels different than any other while they have been at North Carolina. That’s coming from a class that has been to the College Cup the past two seasons.

“Maryland at home — to go 3-0 to start the season — that’s big because the ACC is the toughest league in the country,” Ababio said. “It’s a special season for us, and we want to be the last team standing.”

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