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Sunday June 26th

Season preview: UNC men's soccer

The Tar Heels celebrate after Tucker Hume (36) scored against Syracuse Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.
Buy Photos The Tar Heels celebrate after Tucker Hume (36) scored against Syracuse Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.

But in the 2016 campaign, Somoano has one of the most talented teams he’s ever coached — with a No. 1 recruiting class and a cast of veterans that finished 15-2-3 a season ago. Here’s what to expect from the No. 8 Tar Heels, who open play at home against Cal Poly on Friday.

How do they play?

The Tar Heels will rely on depth, perhaps more than ever. With talented recruits and the top three scorers from 2015, this roster is one of the best in recent memory.

Redshirt senior Tucker Hume came off the bench for much of 2015 and led the team in scoring — and a newcomer could pull off something similar this year.

Who stands out?

Tucker Hume, redshirt senior forward: UNC’s leading goal-scorer from a season ago is back, and he’s likely to see an increased role. After coming off the bench at the beginning of 2015, Hume proved to be a valuable asset up front. His 6-foot-5 frame is lethal on corner kicks and his sneaky speed makes him a nightmare for defenses.

Cam Lindley, first-year mifielder: Widely regarded as the top prospect in the 2016 class, the newcomer will anchor a star-studded UNC midfield. The Carmel, Indiana native has played at the international level and is an ideal piece for Somoano’s starting 11.

James Pyle, redshirt sophomore goalkeeper: After allowing 0.67 goals per game and going 11-1-2 as a starter in 2015, the sophomore will provide a strong presence between the posts. With the starting job and a season under his belt, Pyle should be crucial to UNC’s success.

When is their biggest game?

The Tar Heels will travel to No. 3 Clemson on Sept. 9 for a potential top-five showdown. In the loaded ACC — boasting seven of the top-17 teams in the nation — a win over the Tigers could greatly aid UNC’s conference rank.

What is their biggest weakness?

The Tar Heels averaged 1.95 goals per game this past year — which isn’t bad when allowing only 0.75 goals — but with the talent on this team, UNC should expect more scoring this season.

The team’s 13.1 percent shooting percentage in 2015 leaves plenty of room for improvement for a veteran front line.

Why could they win it all?

The Tar Heels face a unique situation in that they return a lot of talent and have added even more through their 2016 recruiting class.

While it might be difficult to spread the wealth among its roster, it’s a good problem to have for a team looking to return to the national spotlight — although overcoming ego and pride might be a challenge for North Carolina.

@davidrallenjr

sports@dailytarheel.com

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