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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC men's soccer ties Syracuse, 0-0, in battle of top-5 teams

The No. 4 North Carolina men’s soccer team had to settle for a 0-0 tie at No. 3 Syracuse on Friday night in a game where both teams threatened to score but failed to finish despite two overtime periods.

What happened?

On a rainy night in Syracuse, New York, both teams struggled to find their footing throughout the game as the slippery playing surface made the most basic motions become difficult. After an offensive explosion last week against Boston College, North Carolina (7-1-1, 3-0-1 ACC) only mustered six shots against Syracuse (8-1-1, 2-1-1 ACC). Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper James Pyle made five saves against the Orange to notch his sixth shutout of the season.

Who stood out?

Pyle secured the net for the Tar Heels with his five saves. Although Syracuse outshot North Carolina 13-6, Pyle was there to provide the last line of defense. In the 23rd minute, Orange first-year midfielder Mo Adams delivered a shot in the lower right corner that forced Pyle to make an all-out dive. But Pyle calmly tucked the ball into his stomach in what proved to be his toughest save of the night.

Offensively, Tucker Hume and Zach Wright both had shots that they would like to have back. Early in the game, Hume used his size and posted up his defender in the box for his patented turn-around shot. Only this time, Syracuse goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert was ready and deflected it off goal.

After Hume’s shot, the Tar Heels were able to control the rebound and reset their offense which gave Wright his best chance of the night. With no one but Hilpert in his way, Wright had the opportunity to send a header by him to give North Carolina an early lead. But Wright got his head under the ball and floated it harmlessly over the goal.

When was it decided?

In the 81st minute, Syracuse junior forward Chris Nanco had the best look at goal from either side and nearly gave the Orange a late lead. Nanco delivered a bending ball from outside the box that went by a diving Pyle. While it looked like Nanco had put enough spin on the ball to guide it into the net, the ball just hit the crossbar and ricocheted off to the side.

After Nanco’s shot, neither team was able to produce a serious scoring chance for the remainder of the game. As regulation became overtime, both the Tar Heels and the Orange looked fatigued from a tightly contested battle and had to settle for a tie.

Why does it matter?

After playing four ACC games, the North Carolina defense still has a clean sheet. With such a reliable back unit, the Tar Heels will be a tough team to beat as they continue on in conference play. Despite not coming away with a victory, North Carolina responded well to the challenge of playing a top-5 team on the road in less than ideal conditions.

With the tie against Syracuse, North Carolina also holds its first place position in the Coastal Division.

When do they play next?

North Carolina returns home to play UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday at 7 p.m.


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