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Nils Bruening provides spark off bench in UNC men's soccer's 5-0 win

Someone was bound to break out, and that someone was sophomore Nils Bruening — who scored four goals to help the Tar Heels to a dominant 5-0 win.

The forward from Hamburg, Germany had only one goal coming into Friday’s match. But when he subbed into the game for UNC (7-1, 3-0 ACC) in the 26th minute, he didn’t wait to make his impact.

His first goal of the game came from a perfect delivery by junior forward Alan Winn, and Bruening was able to place the ball past the Boston College (5-3, 1-2 ACC) goalkeeper to give his team an early lead.

“It’s great having a big target, but it’s just about consistency and persistency,” Winn said. “We have to do it every time.”

Bruening wasn’t done. Just two minutes after bagging his first goal of the game, he notched his second.

Winn began the action once again, as he played the ball wide right to redshirt senior Nico Melo.

The nifty Melo sent a cross into a crowded box, but the ball eventually found its way to Bruening — who placed it into the back of the net.

The German forward didn’t let off the gas and was just inches away from a first-half hat trick. The chance came off a menacing attack from the Tar Heels, but Bruening blasted the ball just right of the goal moments before the halftime buzzer.

Bruening and North Carolina continued to dominate in the second half. After producing several chances, including a half-pitch shot attempt, Bruening found his second wind and continued his scoring ways.

Junior forward Zach Wright was in the middle of things all night, and he had a nice play to cross the ball into Bruening — who slotted it past the goalkeeper for the hat trick.

Neither Wright nor Bruening seemed to be satisfied with a 3-0 win, however, as they struck again just one minute later.

In the 83rd minute, Wright stormed down the right side of the field and placed the ball in the box, where Bruening pushed it off the right post and into the goal.

It was Wright’s fifth assist of the year and Bruening’s fourth goal of the night.

“I think we have to improve a lot of things, even though we had a good result today,” Bruening said.

His four goals were the most by any UNC player since 2002 and one shy of the North Carolina record for goals in a game.

And he didn’t even begin the game on the field.

Bruening had started all seven games for Tar Heels this season, but on Friday he sat behind redshirt senior Tucker Hume — whose four goals were the most on the team before Bruening’s performance on Friday.

“It wasn’t a punishment,” Coach Carlos Somoano said. “It was more to let him take a breath and see if we could take some of the pressure off of him.”

And with the pressure off, Bruening looked better than ever before.

@YonaDagalosi

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