The No. 5 North Carolina men’s soccer team (11-2-1, 5-1-0 ACC) took down Boston College (4-6-3, 2-5-0 ACC) on Friday night, 2-0, in Chestnut Hill, increasing its lead in the ACC Coastal division to five points with two matches remaining.
Senior forward Nils Bruening provided the first threat for the UNC offense, rocketing a shot wide of the post in the fourth minute of the match. The Tar Heels kept the pressure on, with a missed shot by Mauricio Pineda in the 14th minute before winning back-to-back corner kicks in the 21st and 23rd minutes, but could not put a shot on frame.
In the 31st minute, junior forward Jelani Pieters had the best chance of the half for Carolina, smashing a shot off the post from eight yards out. Boston College pushed some offense of its own, taking a 5-3 lead in shots to the halftime break.
After taking the final two shots of the first half, the Eagles got off the first shot of the second half. North Carolina goalkeeper James Pyle saved the 22-yard effort from Kristofer Konradsson.
As in the first half, Bruening took the first shot of the period for the Tar Heels, this time from a free kick that the Boston College wall blocked in the 52nd minute. It took nearly 20 minutes before either team threatened to score again, when Pineda and Jeremy Kelly had shots blocked in quick succession in the 70th minute for UNC.
Eleven minutes later, the Tar Heels broke the stalemate. Junior midfielder Jack Skahan crossed the ball into the penalty area and Bruening soared in to head it home. Four minutes later, Skahan scored a goal of his own off an assist from Giovanni Montesdeoca, sealing the victory for North Carolina.
Who stood out?
Bruening broke the deadlock with nine minutes remaining in the match, but was a steady contributor throughout. He played the entire 90 minutes and tied with Mauricio Pineda for the team lead in shots.
“I was just happy to help the team,” Bruening said of his late go-ahead goal, “we fought hard till the end and got the goal because we just wanted it more.”
Skahan was also a heavy contributor, assisting Bruening’s goal before putting home one of his own. It was his fourth goal in two games, following up a hat trick against Winthrop on Tuesday.
When was it decided?
The match was decided in its final ten minutes. After an even battle for the first 80 minutes, goals by Bruening and Skahan gave the Tar Heels a 2-0 victory.
Why does it matter?
This was an important victory for the Tar Heels in their pursuit of an ACC Coastal Division title. With two matches against highly ranked squads to finish the season, taking care of business against a sub-.500 team was critical.
Bruening said securing the Costal Division has been a top priority for the Tar Heels all season.
“It’s very important to us,” said Bruening, “our goal is to win every title we can win, and tonight was a big step towards one of them.”
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels have two matches remaining on their schedule, both against teams currently ranked in the top 25. Their next match is at No. 14 Duke on October 23, followed by a home finale against No. 6 Virginia at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary on Oct. 26.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.