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The Daily Tar Heel

Fifteen-second swing knocks UNC men's soccer from ACC Tournament

UNC Men's Soccer fell to Boston College on Sunday, Nov. 6, in the second round of the ACC tournament. The final score was 1-0.
UNC Men's Soccer fell to Boston College on Sunday, Nov. 6, in the second round of the ACC tournament. The final score was 1-0.

Eight-seeded Boston College (8-7-3, 3-3-2 ACC) came to Chapel Hill playing not just for a win but for its season, as a loss would have ended its chances to make the NCAA Tournament.

But the Eagles stayed alive, blanking the top-seeded Tar Heels (11-3-3, 5-1-2 ACC) in a 1-0 win in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.

Often the nature of a game is discovered through style, tempo or skill. But this matchup was defined by one series of plays, over a span of just 30 seconds, in the 58th minute.

The Tar Heels were attacking off a corner kick in the first 15 minutes of the second half. UNC redshirt sophomore Andy Lopez slid through the box trying to get a foot on the ball — and Boston College keeper Cedric Saladin didn’t appreciate how close Lopez’s slide was.

“I saw the ball loose, so I slid because I thought it was 50-50,” Lopez said.

“I got up and he punched me in the face.”

After mayhem ensued, with both teams corralling in the box, two yellow cards were given to Lopez and Saladin.

“Yeah, it was a little bit of a controversial moment,” Head Coach Carlos Somoano said. “It kind of stunned you there for a moment.”

Fifteen seconds later, the ball found its way across the field into the Tar Heel net. This was the first goal UNC had given up in regulation in the past 354 minutes.

Off the Eagles’ free kick and a pair of quick passes, Boston College’s Zeiko Lewis fired a shot that deflected off a UNC defender and beat redshirt sophomore goalkeeper James Pyle to the goal.

“We just have to keep our temper,” senior defender Colton Storm said. “We kind of got caught up in it for, as we saw, a minute. And they took advantage of that minute.”

Storm was one of the few Tar Heels who made it back to defend Boston College’s counter attack, and he said it looked like an unlucky break.

“By the look of it, we made all our plays,” Storm said. “No one’s real fault on that, just a little unlucky. But luck falls to a team that’s going to play a little harder.”

Lucky or not, Somoano said the team has to do a better job getting over the moment and getting back on defense.

“We’re supposed to get up, play on and defend,” he said. “What’s an explanation going to do for me? Doesn’t give us a goal.”

Even though North Carolina finished with 15 shots, 10 corner kicks and the lion’s share of the possession, it was not reflected on the scoreboard. And even though the Tar Heels came into the game with the nation’s best team goals-against-average (0.42), they can’t win without scoring.

With two weeks off before the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels need to return to regular-season form to find postseason success. In the past four years, UNC has gone on to win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament.

“We gotta regroup,” redshirt senior Nico Melo said. “We just gotta realize, ‘Look, we think we want it.’ On the field it doesn’t show.”


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