The last time the North Carolina men’s soccer team had a No.1 ranking and squared off with William and Mary in 2013, a goal in the 73rd minute from the Tribe put the game away on the Tar Heels’ own turf.
But this time, with another No. 1 ranking in tow in 2014, UNC reversed the outcome, shutting out the Tribe 2-0 Tuesday night in Williamsburg, Va.
Senior Tyler Engel scored his second goal of the season in the first eight minutes of competition off a corner kick. Omar Holness crossed the ball to Andy Craven who deflected the ball in Engel’s direction for a 1-0 lead the team wouldn’t relinquish.
Nearly 20 minutes later, Craven demonstrated his brilliance again. With his back to the goal, Craven rolled around the Tribe defense and fired a shot past the keeper into the far corner of the net for the 2-0 lead.
As his teammate Raby George described after the game, Craven has the ability to turn any opportunity on the field into a goal. George said this helps him succeed in his position on the team.
“Having players of this quality makes it easier to play well, especially Andy Craven. It’s just amazing to have a player like that around you,” George said. “He turned a non-goal into a goal.”
Craven added that the 2013 loss to William and Mary made Tuesday’s victory that much sweeter for him.
“You know, it’s great to win any game, and we go out and try to win every single game.” Craven said. “But this year, we used the loss from last season as fire and energy to put the target on their back and take it to them, so that’s what we did tonight.”
While the Tar Heels were victorious against the Tribe this season, coach Carlos Somoano said they still have a lot of work ahead of them.
With the next three games on the road against rival Duke, No. 5 Notre Dame and UNC-Wilmington, Somoano stressed the importance of constant improvement.
“We try to get better at what we do and that’s a long process.” Somoano said, “So we just try to chip away at all the things we’ve identified that we can get better at.”
For UNC (5-1-0, 1-0-0 ACC), that means more development both offensively and defensively.
One key player in the process is George, a midfielder, who constantly connects the whole team’s play.
Lead scorer Craven, said George’s performance against the Tribe (2-4-0, 0-0-0 CAA) exemplified the talent and commitment the players expect from each other .
“He’s our center man, and it’s fantastic when you’ve got legs like that to run around and to help out offensively and defensively,” Craven said. “He had an awesome game (Tuesday) and I’d expect nothing less from him.”
But while UNC enjoyed celebrating Tuesday night’s win, the players already have their sights set on something else — Friday.
“It was a good victory tonight, but we’ve put that behind us,” Craven said. “Now our sights are set on Duke.”