That time of year has come again.
Decked out in Tar Heel blue, eight North Carolina men’s soccer seniors lined up in front of the fans. One by one they stepped forward to give head coach Carlos Somoano a hug, waved to the crowd and walked back holding framed jerseys as the announcer read off all their accomplishments.
For the seniors, the moment was surreal.
“It just goes by so fast. We were freshmen, and we remember seeing the seniors on Senior Day," senior Alex Comsia said. "You think, ‘Oh that’s never going to be you.’"
Thanks to the junior class, No. 4 UNC (13-2-1, 6-1 ACC) extended its season on Sunday afternoon, earning an ACC quarterfinal victory over No. 22 Virginia Tech (10-6-3, 3-4-1 ACC). The 3-0 win marks the first ACC Tournament win for the program since 2012.
“It felt like from the beginning all of the guys were playing for the seniors," senior Nils Bruening said. "You could feel that they were all behind us and showed a lot of emotion.”
After an emotional beginning to Senior Sunday, UNC quickly got back into the zone. The younger Tar Heels paid tribute to their seniors the only way they knew how — securing the team’s fourth consecutive shutout and overall 10th of the season.
“I’m really happy with the response of the guys," Comsia said. "From the first whistle, we came onto the field to win it.”
UNC came out as aggressive as ever, racking up 13 shots in total. Of the seven shots that were on goal, three went in, all scored by different Tar Heel juniors. Midfielder Jeremy Kelly scored the opening goal, his first of the season. Mauricio Pineda, also a midfielder, scored his fifth goal of the season while forward Jack Skahan continued his hot streak. Skahan scored the final goal of the game and leads the team with seven this season.