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The Daily Tar Heel

Defensive miscues plague UNC men's soccer in loss to Virginia

Carolina defender Mauricio Pineda battles for possession of the ball with UVA midfielder Pablo Aquilar.
Carolina defender Mauricio Pineda battles for possession of the ball with UVA midfielder Pablo Aquilar.

The Tar Heels had gone over 400 minutes without surrendering a single goal, so another clean sheet didn’t seem too farfetched.

But in the final 45 minutes, UNC allowed two goals as Virginia came back to defeat North Carolina, 2-1, on Friday night at Fetzer Field.

“I think we did enough if we just don’t concede those poor, poor defensive plays on our part,” Coach Carlos Somoano said. “They took advantage of it and they deserve credit for it, but we just had bad lapses on defense, and one goal should have been enough to win this game.”

With the Cavaliers (6-2-3, 1-2-2 ACC) struggling to maintain possession, their only hope to create scoring opportunities was through long passes into the final third, which are difficult to complete if the defense is focused and in proper position.

But the Tar Heels (8-2-1, 3-1-1 ACC) were neither on Friday even though they expected Virginia to utilize the long-ball attack.

“Carlos mentioned that they were going to keep clipping more balls over in the second half because that’s how they play,” said redshirt senior defender Walker Hume. “And it worked for them because we didn’t play our game.”

The first of those defensive lapses occurred in the 52nd minute, when midfielder Terrell Lowe sent a through ball into the box and found forward Marcus Salandy-Defour on the end line. As Salandy-Defour attempted to cross the ball in front of the goal, sophomore defender Alex Comsia slid in and deflected the pass off of his leg.

The only problem was that the ball ricocheted up in front of the goal, where an unmarked Pablo Aguilar ran in to head the ball by goalkeeper James Pyle while Hume and Colton Storm could only watch.

“Coming into the game, we knew that they were going to sit in and we expected the long ball and counter attacks,” Storm said.

“We had it in the back of our minds but we let it slip and eased off the gas.”

With the game tied and the Tar Heels on the attack looking to regain the lead, they again forgot to account for the long ball.

Following a turnover in the offensive third, Virgina’s Nicko Corriveau delivered a long pass on the ground that split Comsia and Hume and found Wesley Wade, who then beat Pyle on a breakaway to give the Cavaliers the lead with 12 minutes left to play.

“We just got to have that closed up,” said Hume. “That’s just a lack of focus there not being in the right starting spot, and that’s something that we know how to do. But we took a play off, and they punished us for it.”

For a defensive unit that has been so reliable so far this season, the errors were extremely uncharacteristic of the bar the group set for itself.

“I don’t think (Virginia) did anything special, we kind of just beat ourselves,” Storm said. “We hold ourselves to the same standard every half whether we’re up 1-0 or down 1-0, and I think we need to look at ourselves and just dig a little deeper.”


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