Nelson was one of six Tar Heels named to All-ACC teams. UNC led all schools with four players named to the first team, tying the school record set in 2011 when the team won the National Championship. Three seniors were named first-team — midfielder Nils Bruening, goalkeeper James Pyle and Comsia — as well as junior Mauricio Pineda.
Nelson was named All-ACC second team while junior forward Jack Skahan was honored with All-ACC third team honors. It was Skahan's first All-ACC selection.
Although none of the All-ACC players scored any goals or provided assists, their impact on the field didn’t go unnoticed Wednesday night. Throughout the second half, Duke was playing with more energy compared to the Tar Heels, a quality that later proved to be lethal.
In the 79th minute, Duke’s Issa Rayyan had a one-on-one opportunity against Pyle. Even though it seemed like the Blue Devil had a clear shot, Pyle made a flying save, his third of the half and the night. That’s how the goalkeeper operates — making unexpected saves that leave his teammates wondering how he got there in time.
Bruening had an aggressive night, but once again, you couldn't tell from the box score. The midfielder, who leads by example, created opportunities for his fellow teammates, somehow slipping past defenders despite his 6-foot-3-inch frame.
Just over 12 minutes into the second half, the midfielder blocked a hard Blue Devil shot near the box. Even when Bruening lacks on the offensive front, he found opportunities for those around him, supporting his team in any capacity possible.
Before the ACC Semifinal match, Skahan had recorded six goals and two assists over a four-game period. The forward’s hot streak may have ended against Duke on Wednesday night, but that doesn’t mean his impact went unnoticed. He recorded three shots, one of which was on goal.
Skahan’s corner kicks are powerful, constantly providing opportunities for the Tar Heels to capitalize in the box. In the 29th minute, Skahan took three steps before rocketing a right footed corner kick into the box. A Blue Devil deflected the kick with his head, only for it to find sophomore forward Giovanni Montesdeoca, who guided the ball into the back of the net.
Pineda had an explosive offensive night despite not adding a goal to the scoreboard. He led the team with five shots, three of which were on goal. This season, he's scored five goals, contributed four assists and recorded 32 shots.
Nelson and Comsia led the defense together on Wednesday night. The duo has fed off each other since Nelson joined the team last year. Comsia took the young defender under his wing, helping him out on and off the field. According to Nelson, the best piece of advice the captain has given him all season was to take it game by game.
“Don’t look at it too much, and no matter who we’re playing against, keep that defensive mentality,” Nelson said. “We’re the best defense in the country right now because we have that mentality.”
For the first time since 2012, UNC is headed to the ACC Championship game thanks to the joint effort from the entire team. As Comsia said at the end of the game, it’s a team effort because every detail and everyone matters. The All-ACC honors were just an added plus for the entire team because they share those individual victories as a family.
“I don’t coach for awards,” head coach Carlos Somoano said. “I don’t coach for trophies. I coach for our kids. I don’t think they play for awards. I think they play for each other. I hope that’s how it is at Carolina, and I hope that’s how it’s always going to be at Carolina.”
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