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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC men's soccer faces Wake Forest

Undefeated conference foes meet

Through nine starts this season, Kirk Urso has registered three goals and two assists for the Tar Heels, who face Wake Forest today at 7 p.m.
Through nine starts this season, Kirk Urso has registered three goals and two assists for the Tar Heels, who face Wake Forest today at 7 p.m.

Last year, North Carolina walked away from Wake Forest’s soccer field with a 2-2 double overtime draw. The two finished tied for first with their ACC men’s soccer records and both dropped from the NCAA College Cup at the national semifinal level.

It might as well be déjà vu.

As No. 4 UNC prepares for the arrival of the Demon Deacons at Fetzer Field on Friday, the similarities between the two teams are yet again mounting.

The Tar Heels (7-2, 4-0 ACC) currently top the ACC with their undefeated conference play, but Wake Forest (5-4-1, 3-0) is just a half-game behind.

“They’ve had some good results,” UNC coach Elmar Bolowich said. “They won at Virginia just like we did 1-0.”
The Demon Deacons also notched a 2-0 victory against Virginia Tech along with a 2-1 win against Clemson — two of just three ACC teams North Carolina has yet to face.

Although Wake Forest has found conference success, the team’s weakness may lie exactly where the Tar Heels have also struggled: non-conference, Tuesday night games.

Losses to the UNC-Charlotte, College of Charleston and South Carolina have tainted Wake Forest’s success and kept them out of the national rankings, as has a 2-0 loss to Akron.

“The fact that they struggle midweek, well we can say the same for us,” Bolowich said. “We struggle midweek, too — we lost at Old Dominion.”

Despite the midweek struggles, the Demon Deacons still have plenty to boast. Sophomore Andy Lubahn is currently leading this year’s squad with four goals after finishing second in the team’s scorers last year with 10.

Wake Forest may have lost five starters since last season — including leading scorer Zack Schilawski — but the team’s youth has been those carrying the Demon Deacons’ attack so far this year.

“Wake has lost a lot of players from last year’s team, so they seem to be just a little bit younger perhaps, but that doesn’t mean they are less dangerous,” Bolowich said.

Freshman Luca Gimenez and sophomore Anthony Arena each have scored two goals to earn themselves a spot tied as the team’s second-leading scorers.

Wake Forest’s offense has combined for a total of only ten goals this year, which exactly matches the number of goals they’ve allowed. Keeper Akira Fitzgerald has saved 39 shots from threatening the back of the Demon Deacons’ net.

Meanwhile the Tar Heels will be rolling on momentum from a 5-1 victory against Radford from Tuesday. Although the win boosted the team’s confidence and allowed younger players like Martin Murphy and Josh Rice to make significant contributions, the team still took away a lesson for Friday’s game.

“We have to get better all around. We gave up a very, very soft goal (Tuesday).” Bolowich said. “We cannot afford those lapses in tough games.”

This game in particular has a lot attached to it. Not only will it determine who will remain undefeated and at the top of the ACC, it will also prove to be a significant step for North Carolina and its strong senior class.
“They’re very similar to us — their style of play,” redshirt senior Eddie Ababio said. “On that note, they’ve won a national championship (in 2007) and we haven’t, so that’s motivation.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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