The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

No. 1 UNC men's soccer loses first game of season

	Senior midfielder Chipper Root goes for the ball in UNC’s 1-0 to William and Mary Tuesday night.

Senior midfielder Chipper Root goes for the ball in UNC’s 1-0 to William and Mary Tuesday night.

When the sideline referee raised his flag to signal a William & Mary goal at Fetzer Field Tuesday night, the No. 1 North Carolina men’s soccer team was left in a wake of confusion.

Not only was the team playing with only 10 players on the field, but UNC also could not be certain that the chaos surrounding its net had produced a legitimate goal.

William & Mary midfielder Chris Perez sent a volley into the box that was then headed by Chris Albiston in the 73rd minute. UNC redshirt junior goalkeeper Brendan Moore came off his line to push the ball away, but wasn’t able to get to the deflection in time.

“It was a cluster,” Moore said. “I saw the ball bouncing around and somehow it got pushed into the net. I saw the ball get close (to the goal line) and it may have passed it. I’m not sure, but Nick (Williams) definitely played it back out.”

UNC’s confusion reached its peak when Tribe forward Jackson Eskay, not Albiston, was credited with the goal.

The goal gave the Tribe a 1-0 lead it would not relinquish, and broke both UNC’s undefeated record and its four-game streak of overtime play.

Despite the defensive mayhem, the more troubling issue for coach Carlos Somoano was the fact that his players had been outnumbered 10 to 11 due to a substitution miscommunication.

“I sent (Boyd Okwuonu) off because he had blood on his uniform,” Somoano said. “They asked me if I wanted a sub and we said yes. I called Cooper (Vandermaas-Peeler) up and they didn’t give us a chance to sub. It’s not right that they scored when we had a man down.”

From the initial whistle, the Tribe immediately shook up the Tar Heel defense, forcing a series of errors. Two failed clearances on the UNC back line left William & Mary open for dangerous shots early in the half.

After the initial defensive threats, the Tar Heels were able to regain possession and control the remainder of the half.

In the second half, the Tar Heels continued to push, pounding multiple crosses over the goal mouth. Senior forward Josh Rice had three early back-to-back attempts, two from headers and one from a strike that resulted in a corner kick, but UNC could not capitalize on the final touch.

“We’re creating chances we’re just not finishing right now,” junior forward Tyler Engel said. “Sometimes balls don’t bounce your way.”

The Tar Heels left the field frustrated, but Somoano said the blame for the loss should not fall on the referees.

“When you’ve really got your stuff together and you’re really playing well, you get through these moments,” Somoano said. “It’s not like you’re not going to have something controversial happen to you every season. We need to find a better way to handle these moments.”

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.