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The Daily Tar Heel

ACC Tournament preview: UNC men's soccer prepares for offensive-minded Boston College

Nils Bruening (14) celebrates after his first of four goals during the game against Boston College.
Nils Bruening (14) celebrates after his first of four goals during the game against Boston College.

For the Eagles (7-7-3, 3-3-2 ACC), advancing to the quarterfinals was anything but a given, as they went 4-3 on penalty kicks against Virginia Tech after tying 2-2 in regulation to advance.

The Tar Heels (11-2-3, 5-1-2 ACC) are unbeaten in their last five games and defeated Boston College 5-0 earlier this season at Fetzer Field behind Nils Bruening’s four goals.

How do they play?

Boston College relies on its offense to control possession and patiently work the ball into the box. While the Eagles don’t generate a ton of shots relative to the rest of the ACC, they are one of the best at earning corner kick opportunities — averaging over six corner kicks per game.

While Boston College was unable to get on the scoreboard against UNC in its prior meeting, it generated some quality scoring chances and forced goalkeeper James Pyle to make six saves.

Although the Eagles depend on skill and precision offensively, they are one of the more physical teams in the conference.

Boston College averages nearly 14 fouls per game and leads the ACC in yellow card bookings with 1.94 per game. North Carolina will have to remain composed when dealing with the bruising brand of soccer Boston College plays.

Who stands out?

Senior midfielder Maximilian Schulze-Geisthovel leads the Eagles with seven goals on the season.

Despite leading the team in scoring, Schulze-Geisthovel is not a high volume scorer, but in just 29 shots he has converted nearly a quarter into goals.

The Eagles have another offensive weapon in senior forward Zeiko Lewis. In the team’s win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday, Lewis scored both goals for the Eagles including the game-tying goal with less than five minutes remaining.

Lewis’ five goals rank second on the team, but he is also comfortable as a distributor, leading the Eagles with five assists.

What’s their weakness?

Boston College relies on the offense because its lackluster defense leaves no choice. Scoring is a must for the Eagles because they allow 1.65 goals per game. All four of Nils Bruening’s goals against Boston College came when the forward was left unmarked inside the box.

The inconsistent play in the Boston College back line has been compounded by shaky goalkeeping from Cedric Saladin. Saladin saves just 66.7 percent of shots on goal that come his way and has failed to bail out his defense.

How could they win?

In North Carolina’s losses, the Tar Heels tended to force the offense, making careless passes and taking low percentage shots.

Boston College has the firepower offensively to take advantage on counter attacks. If the Eagles can maintain possession and keep the ball in the middle and attacking thirds, they avoid relying on their defense and have a chance to pull off the upset.

@david_adler94

sports@dailytarheel.com

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