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The Daily Tar Heel

Virginia upsets No. 4 UNC men's soccer, 2-1

The No. 4 UNC men’s soccer team lost to rival Virginia on Friday night at Fetzer Field, 2-1. The Tar Heels’ (8-2-1, 3-1-1 ACC) dominant first-half performance was nullified by a two-goal second half from the Cavaliers (6-2-3, 1-2-2 ACC).

What happened?

Thanks to rainy conditions, the game got off to a sloppy start for both sides. The wet pitch made defending difficult and accurate passing a challenge.

North Carolina adjusted quickly, however, and began to dominate possession. UNC’s midfield players forced the game to be played on Virginia’s side of the field for the majority of the half.

It took almost 40 minutes for the Tar Heels to find a breakthrough against the Cavalier’s backline.

Redshirt senior defender Walker Hume put North Carolina up 1-0 in the 37th minute when he skied above his defender and headed the ball into the net after receiving a cross from junior David October. It was Hume’s fourth goal of the season.

The tone of the game changed as the second half began. The Cavaliers came out with more energy and composure, while UNC came out looking sluggish and uninterested.

This change manifested itself in an equalizing goal for Virginia. Pablo Aguilar popped the ball over redshirt sophomore goalkeeper James Pyle to even the score at 1-1 in the 53rd minute.

The Tar Heels created a number of chances after the Cavalier goal, but were unable to take the lead.

Virginia scored the game winner in the 78th minute when Nicko Corriveau took advantage of a defensive miscue and sent a long through ball between two North Carolina defenders to give Wesley Wade a one-on-one opportunity with Pyle. Wade calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner to beat Pyle and seal the game for the Cavaliers.

Who stood out?

Despite allowing a goal in the first half, Virginia’s goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell played a huge role in the Cavaliers' win. He had seven saves in the game, five of which came in the second half. Caldwell’s play between the posts gave the Cavaliers momentum and deflated the UNC attack during the most pivotal period of the game.

When was it decided?

With a 1-0 lead at start the second half, all UNC needed to do to come away with a win was hold on to the ball and play with focus. However, Virginia’s early second-half goal applied pressure to the Tar Heels. North Carolina’s fate was sealed when it failed to deal with this pressure and allowed the Cavaliers to score the game-winning goal.

Why does it matter?

After posting three straight clean sheets and allowing only two goals in six games, the UNC defense gave up two to Virginia in 45 minutes. What is more troubling for the Tar Heels than the goals themselves is the defensive miscues and mistakes that led to them. 

With only three conference games remaining, the North Carolina backline will need to remedy these problems quickly if it wants to meet expectations and come out on top in the ACC.

Where do they play next?

The Tar Heels will host UNC-Asheville at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Fetzer Field.


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