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The Daily Tar Heel

Men's soccer fails to capitalize

UNC midfielder Verneri Valimaa (18) makes a cut as UNC Wilmington midfielder Seo-In Kim (23) defends.
UNC midfielder Verneri Valimaa (18) makes a cut as UNC Wilmington midfielder Seo-In Kim (23) defends.

North Carolina freshman Colton Storm’s chip arched toward the far corner of the net, but the shot landed harmlessly in the gloves of the UNC-Wilmington keeper with no Tar Heel blue in sight. Storm immediately threw up his hands in frustration — his figure illuminated by the scoreboard ticking down the final minutes of the match.

This action epitomized the No. 20 UNC men’s soccer team’s effort in its 1-0 loss to the Seahawks Tuesday night.

Although UNC (5-3-5) tallied 16 shots to UNC-W’s four, the Tar Heels failed to capitalize in the non-conference matchup.

“It’s not how many shots we take, it’s about the quality of the shots,” junior midfielder Verneri Valimaa said.

The frustration is not a new notion to the Tar Heels who have struggled offensively all season. After the first minutes of play, UNC appeared to be on the brink of finishing with narrow attempts from Valimaa, junior Tyler Engel and senior Josh Rice.

“We had really good looks in the first 15 minutes,” coach Carlos Somoano said. “I don’t have any easy way to say this as a coach but somebody’s just got to put it in.”

Their best chance came when junior defender Jordan McCrary made a deep drive up the sideline. He sent a cross to Valimaa whose header look destined for the side pocket of the net.

Seahawk goalkeeper Sean Melvin’s last second diving save kept UNC-W alive .

Although UNC was getting many chances, UNC-W made its count.

With 10 minutes left in the first half, a North Carolina player fouled at midfield, and the Seahawks were rewarded with a free kick. A failed clearance from the low cross deflected off of UNC-W sophomore Jordan Cordero’s shin and behind junior redshirt goalkeeper Brendan Moore.

From the first whistle of the second half, the Tar Heels made every effort to exploit the UNC-W goal.

Engel weaved in and out of the Seahawk defensive line feeding give-and-goes to his teammates who couldn’t manage the final touch. Valimaa hammered five corner kicks into the box, but connections were mishandled or nonexistent.

“I feel like some people just don’t want it bad enough,” Rice said. “I don’t think we fought to the very last second, and I wasn’t really satisfied with the body language. (Saying) ‘Oh, the guy behind me has it,’ it doesn’t work like that.”

Meanwhile, Moore watched from his goal without any saves to make in the entire half.

With time quickly diminishing, the Tar Heels’ frustration was palpable as their shots rocketed feet over the crossbar. Time ran out before UNC could get the equalizer resulting in its third season loss.

“It’s like a batter’s slump,” Somoano said. “You’ve got to work your way out. If you stop swinging, you’re not going to score. We’re capable of it, but tonight was an off night.”

sports@dailytarheel.com

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