On Tuesday night, junior Jack Skahan netted his first career hat trick in No. 5 North Carolina men’s soccer team's 4-0 win over Winthrop (3-9, 2-4 Big South).
It was the first hat trick for the team since 2016, and the forward could not have stepped up at a better time, as the Tar Heels (10-2-1, 4-1-0 ACC) have been struggling to find the back of the net in their recent matches.
“You need to be a poisonous snake, not a garden snake,” head coach Carlos Somoano said.
Skahan came out with that mentality. He kicked the scoring off early by converting a cross from sophomore John Nelson and heading the ball past the keeper in the 11th minute.
Against N.C. State on Friday, North Carolina had 18 shots, including five on goal, but were unable to score and lost to the Wolfpack, 1-0. Not being able to finish has become a recurring theme in the Tar Heels' season, but they seemed to figured out some of their issues against Winthrop.
Though North Carolina had plenty of opportunities and shots on goal, it was unable to score again before halftime. Its defense did not waver or show any signs of conceding a goal, only allowing one shot in the first half.
The second half continued where the first half let off, and it did not take long for the Tar Heels to score again, with sophomore Giovanni Montesdeoca scoring in the 50th minute.
As it began to rain, it would have been easy for UNC to take its foot off the gas pedal and lay off. Coming off a loss on Friday, and with three tough conference opponents in the next ten days, it would have been natural to relax and let the time run out. However, this team has learned through the past couple weeks that mindset is everything.
Led by Skahan, UNC kept its venomous mentality and attacked relentlessly, breaking down Winthrop’s defense and finding opportunity after opportunity in the box. In the 56th minute, Montesdeoca laid the ball off and Skahan was able to find the top left corner as he pushed the Tar Heels to 3-0 on his second goal of the day.
Less than two minutes later, Skahan scored again, making the score 4-0 and securing his hat trick. Before being subbed out in the 66th minute, he nearly bagged a fourth, with his last shot of the night ricocheting off the post. Somoano substituted him out along with the rest of the forwards, allowing them to rest in anticipation of the next three games.
North Carolina finished the night with a season high in both shots and shots on goal, showing its killer mentality and crushing Winthrop in a much needed win.
The Tar Heels will look to maintain the mentality they found against Winthrop, and Skahan to continue his scoring ways to close out the regular season..
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