In the first half of Sunday’s 2-1 win against Boston University, the No. 1 North Carolina men’s soccer team lived up to its billing as the top-ranked team in the nation.
In the second half, though, the Tar Heels may have let that No. 1 status go a bit to their heads.
“To be honest, I’m a little bit disappointed in the performance tonight,” UNC coach Carlos Somoano said. “I thought we got sloppy. I thought we got perhaps even a little arrogant, maybe thinking that we’re impenetrable.”
Behind 2-0, the Terriers staged a late rally against the Tar Heels, scoring the first goal of the season against UNC with a header in the 84th minute. And as the clock wound down, Boston University didn’t let up on the gas pedal.
Meanwhile, Somoano said his Tar Heels became careless with turnovers and weren’t positioning themselves in the correct places.
“I thought Boston University just outworked us in the last 20 minutes,” Somoano said. ‘They showed a good response. You gotta give them credit. They were working their tails off, and our job was to respond to that, and I don’t think we did.”
The first half was a different story.
The Tar Heels looked energetic and aggressive, jumping out to a 1-0 lead with a goal by junior forward Andy Craven.
Receiving a long feed from midfielder Verneri Valimaa, Craven touched the back corner of the net with a deft chip shot.
“(Valimaa) picked his head up and saw that I was making a run,” Craven said. “So I checked in and checked back out to open up some space, made the run, and he played in a perfect ball to me … and then I just poked it with the outside of my foot past the keeper.”
The goal placed the momentum firmly on UNC’s side, and a Martin Murphy goal on a penalty kick in the 68th minute seemed to all but seal a Tar Heel victory.
But while UNC (3-0) did end up getting the win, the Terriers certainly didn’t hand anything over.
“One thing about Boston that I respect is that they didn’t give up,” Craven said. “They stuck in the whole time. I thought after the first half we were just going to come out and really, really take it to them.
“They hung in there, and they believed they could win, and that’s what you have to do if you’re playing against the No. 1 team in the nation.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.