The North Carolina wrestling team scored its first ACC victory Saturday, defeating No. 23 Pittsburgh, 20-16.
After dropping the first match, the Tar Heels (6-5, 1-2 ACC) rattled off three straight wins and led 11-3. This stretch included a major-decision victories for first-year Nicholas Lirette and redshirt senior Joey Ward and a decision by redshirt junior Troy Heilmann.
The Panthers (8-4, 0-2 ACC) answered back with two wins of their own, narrowing the lead to one point.
Next, redshirt junior Ethan Ramos dominated his opponent, pinning him and adding six points to his team’s score. With a 17-10 lead, the Tar Heels were able to hang on, winning 20-16. The team’s final three points came at 197 pounds, as junior Daniel Chaid won by decision.
Who stood out?
Lirette picked up an extra-point win for the Tar Heels. He defeated his opponent 21-9, which gave him the major-decision win and his team a lead it never relinquished.
The Tar Heels have counted on Ramos for big performances his whole career. Against Pitt, Ramos, ranked No. 6 at 174 pounds, secured a pin and a comfortable lead for his team.
When was it decided?
The Tar Heels held an 11-3 lead halfway through the match and seemed in control. But after two Pitt victories, the Panthers pulled to within a point.
With the match at 11-10, Ramos stepped onto the mat. And like he has his whole career, the redshirt junior came up big for UNC, pinning his opponent and stretching the lead to 17-10. The pin put the team in the position to close out the match.
Why does it matter?
With the win against Pitt, UNC picked up its first and much-needed conference win. The Tar Heels dropped their first two ACC contests to Virginia Tech and N.C. State, both of which are ranked in the top-10.
UNC also earned its first ranked win of the year against a top-25 team. The Tar Heels were 0-5 against ranked opponents coming into the match.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels host Virginia Saturday at 7 p.m. in Carmichael Arena.
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