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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 2 UNC men's soccer upset by East Tennessee State in first loss of season

Staff Writer

The No. 2 North Carolina men’s soccer team (4-1) suffered its first loss of the season Tuesday against East Tennessee State (3-2) in a 1-0 defeat at Fetzer Field. The Buccaneers scored in the 92nd minute to sink the Tar Heels.

What happened?

East Tennessee State relied on a bend-but-don’t-break defense, led by sophomore goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland. In the 12th minute, he collided with UNC sophomore Nils Bruening and took a blow to the head. But he stayed in the game and anchored the Buccaneers’ stingy defense.

With four minutes left in the opening half, UNC had its best chance to break the tie when redshirt senior Tucker Hume had back-to-back shots saved — including one off Sutherland’s fingertips.

As in the first half, UNC dominated possession through much of the second. But neither team could solve the other’s defense, as both sides remained scoreless.

In the final minutes of regulation, Zach Wright looked to repeat his late-game theatrics from the prior game. But the junior came up short as the game went to extra time.

And within two minutes of extra time, East Tennessee State scored the game’s lone goal to secure the win.

Who stood out?

It was a collective effort from Sutherland and the four Buccaneer defenders in front of him. The Tar Heels were on the attack for the majority of the game, and the back line was able to hold up for 92 minutes. The defense faced 16 shots and 10 corner kicks, and they stood tall against the No. 2 team in the nation.

When was it decided?

Almost two minutes into extra time, East Tennessee State junior midfielder Fletcher Ekern finally broke through with a goal on the counterattack. This was the tried-and-true method the Buccaneers had been using the entire game — and like so many times before, the defensive-minded team was rewarded for its effort.

Why does it matter?

This is a tough loss for a North Carolina team which was looking to start the season with five straight wins for the first time since 1987. After defeating then-No. 2 Clemson on the road this past Friday — and staring at a quick turnaround with a home game against Pittsburgh this Friday — this was the ultimate trap game for the Tar Heels. And on Tuesday, UNC was unable to avoid it.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will stay home to take on ACC foe Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.


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