The North Carolina men's soccer team came from behind to defeat Florida Gulf Coast, 3-2, in double overtime Sunday night at Fetzer Field.
Heading into the Round of 32, both North Carolina and Florida Gulf Coast knew their strengths. For the Tar Heels, it was its defense. In 17 games, UNC allowed just eight goals, the best in the nation, while in 20 games, the Eagles had scored 60 goals, also the best in the nation.
It would be the high powered offense of Florida Gulf Coast to strike first. After ten minutes of give-and-take, Arion Sobers-Assue sent a long ball into the box that confounded the Tar Heel back line. UNC defenders Colton Storm and Walker Hume couldn't get a foot on the high, bouncing ball, and Eagle midfielder Robert Ferrer sent a floater past the diving Tar Heel goalkeeper, James Pyle.
Down a goal, the Tar Heels would look to their veteran midfielders for offensive productivity. Junior Alan Winn and senior Nico Melo combined for several quality looks at goal, but couldn't find the back of the net.
But with 15 minutes left in the first half, Melo did what he does best, playing a long ball, hooking from right to left, into the Tar Heel box. The ball found Zach Wright's head and was redirected to Tucker Hume, who slammed the ball into the net for a goal.
The Tar Heels went into halftime tied on the scoreboard, but ahead in shots and corner kicks. And straying from his usual strategy of relying on depth, Coach Carlos Somoano used just one substitute in the first half in junior midfielder David October.
Coming out of the locker room, the Eagles brought too much intensity back onto the playing field, as a pair of fouls, including a red card, would permanently shape the remainder of the game. Although the the Tar Heels didn't get a goal immediately on either foul, they did get a pair of good looks and played with a one-man advantage for the remainder of the contest.
In the immediate aftermath of the red card, UNC had several serious chances in the offensive third of the field, but redshirt senior forward Tucker Hume was waved offside three times, stifling any offensive flow.