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UNC men's soccer team captures elusive win at Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — After a scoreless first half between No. 2 North Carolina and No. 4 Virginia, forward Alex Dixon sent a lead-changing shot soaring into the upper right corner of the net for UNC’s men’s soccer team Friday.

But in the middle of Dixon’s celebratory cartwheel, an offside whistle called the goal back and removed North Carolina’s gleaming ‘1’ from the scoreboard.

The Tar Heels (6-2, 4-0 ACC) instead turned to midfielder Kirk Urso on a second-half corner kick to give UNC a 1-0 victory against the Cavaliers (6-2-1, 1-2-1) — the first win North Carolina has earned in Charlottesville since 1977.

“I don’t know where I was in 1977,” UNC coach Elmar Bolowich said. “Unfortunately, Dixon’s goal didn’t stand, but still Kirk had the presence of mind on a corner to go short and capitalize on that.”

In the 59th minute of the ACC matchup, Urso lined up to take a corner and played a short ball to fellow midfielder Michael Farfan. Farfan immediately sent the ball straight back to Urso, who bent a shot toward the goal.

Then confusion struck.

“I tried to hit it near post, and I guess sometimes the runner comes out and tries to flick it in,” Urso said. “It’s a weird corner to deal with for goalies, I guess. I didn’t see who it hit. All I saw was that it ended up in the back of the net, and I was happy.”

Regardless of the play’s disputed details, Farfan was credited with the assist on Urso’s second goal of the season as the ball soared behind Virginia’s Diego Restrepo and into the upper left corner.

After a 2-1 loss at Old Dominion Tuesday that left defender Brett King sidelined with a foot injury, the Tar Heels welcomed an adjusted lineup to the field at Klöckner Stadium.

North Carolina shifted forward Eddie Ababio to the back line alongside redshirt freshman Matt Rose, who made his first start for the Tar Heels. Dustin McCarty moved up to contribute in the midfield, and Enzo Martinez rounded out the changes with his spot in the Tar Heels’ attacking third.

“After coming back from Old Dominion, we just wanted to stabilize our defense,” Bolowich said. “We wanted to be a bit more conservative.”

Although Virginia threatened early with multiple attempts at North Carolina’s goal, the solidified defense prevented the Wahoos from gaining clear shots at goal.

UNC’s offense found its own rhythm early into the match and flourished in the team’s effort, outshooting Virginia on goal 7-2.

Even after the Tar Heels failed to capitalize on multiple first-half opportunities, Bolowich is confident that the game’s narrow outcome ended appropriately.

“I think we really deserved this game,” Bolowich said. “Looking at the chances that we did have, with Enzo from five yards out, and in the first half you had Carlos McCrary wide open in front of the goal… normally those are sure goals.”

The win also placed this squad in the North Carolina record books. For the first time in school history, the program has started ACC play with a perfect 4-0 slate.

“Anytime you can put your name down somewhere and keep it there for a long time, it’s really amazing,” Martinez said. “I can tell you it’s very fun to be 4-0, but it’s more fun to have a chance to go 5-0 and make further history.”

Contact the Sports Editor

at sports@unc.edu.

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