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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC men's soccer rallies late to defeat Duke

Down a goal midway through the second half, the No. 8 North Carolina men’s soccer team rallied to score two goals in the final 20 minutes at Koskinen Stadium in Durham on Friday to earn a 2-1 victory over Duke.

What happened?

After a first half where North Carolina (10-2-1, 4-1-1 ACC) and Duke (4-6-2, 1-4-1 ACC) only had two shots apiece, Duke controlled possession early in the second half and grabbed a 1-0 lead on Cameron Moseley’s header off a corner kick. 

Playing from behind, the Tar Heels forced the issue against the Blue Devils and were rewarded when Nils Bruening headed Jeremy Kelly’s cross into the back of the net to tie the game with 20 minutes remaining.

Following the goal, neither North Carolina nor Duke generated any serious scoring threats and it looked like the game was headed to overtime. All of that changed when Zach Wright received a pass at midfield and proceeded to weave around four Duke defenders and fire a shot by goalkeeper Robert Moewes from 15 yards away to give the Tar Heels the lead with just nine minutes left to play.

Who stood out?

Bruening initially stood out for his mistake that put the UNC behind. On Duke’s corner kick, Bruening marked Moseley and whiffed on his clearing header and Moseley made him pay for his mistake by giving Duke the lead. 

Bruening quickly put the mistake behind him when he saw Jeremy Kelly’s cross entering the box. Bruening got around his defender and drilled his header into the goal for the equalizer.

When Mauricio Pineda delivered the ball to Wright on the left sideline near midfield, it looked like one of many routine passes in the game. Wright took the ball up field but had four Duke defenders in front of him and no teammates to help him. Wright took it upon himself to make a play. 

Even though the odds were against him, Wright continued to attack and cut into the middle of the field, where he had a small opening for a shot. From outside the box, and with multiple defenders in the vicinity, 

Wright blasted a shot that sailed over the head of Moewes and calmly kicked off of the bottom of the crossbar and into the back of the net to give the Tar Heels a late lead.

When was it decided?

Wright’s goal gave North Carolina the lead with less than nine minutes left in the game. With little time remaining, the Tar Heels had all 11 back playing defense as Duke struggled to advance the ball into the UNC defensive third.

Why does it matter?

For most of the season North Carolina has played from ahead, so it was important for the Tar Heels to find a way to win when after trailing late in the game. 

Although Duke has struggled this season, it played the rivalry game with intensity and North Carolina was able to match that energy in a game that was physical and chippy.

Where do they play next?

North Carolina returns to action on Tuesday in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, as they face the College of Charleston.


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