Spring has sprung, but some fall sports are still competing.
On April 13, the North Carolina men’s soccer team won its second straight U.S. Soccer Spring College Program championship after beating Virginia Tech, 4-2. The Tar Heels have gone 8-0-1 and are the only program to go undefeated during the last two years.
“The spring is a different animal than the fall, and so to come out to win the spring tournament for the second time allows us to realize that we just need to continue doing what we do because it can prove that it works, so it’s worth it,” junior Jack Skahan said.
The 2-year-old U.S. Soccer Spring College Program provides an opportunity for U.S. Soccer Scouts to watch and identify potential U.S. Olympic and National Team players while allowing the college teams to learn how to work together after losing pivotal players to the professional draft or graduation.
“Across the world, soccer is played with consistent games from August to May and in college, you’re really only scheduled in the fall,” Skahan said. “The spring tournament basically allows you to get more high level games, more consistency.”
During the spring 2018 season, UNC finished 5-0 while outscoring its opponents, 13-2. The Tar Heels beat Clemson, 4-1, Georgetown, 4-0, Virginia, 2-1, Wake Forest, 2-0, and lastly, Duke, 1-0, to win the spring 2018 title. The biggest win, besides beating rival Duke for the championship, was the 2-1 win over UVA in 2018. The Cavaliers were the other unbeaten team in the program at the time.
The Tar Heels kicked off the spring 2019 season with a Battle of the Blues matchup on March 2. UNC topped Duke 1-0 after junior midfielder Jeremy Kelly scored a goal in the first half. For the remainder of the game, the Tar Heels played strong defense to shut down the Blue Devils.
“It’s always exciting to play Duke because I am from Chapel Hill and am a big UNC fan,” Kelly said. “It means a little more, but once the game starts, it’s not much different.”
Next up on UNC’s schedule was Clemson, where the teams tied, 2-2. The game headed into a penalty shootout, which the Tar Heels won, 4-2. Junior Mauricio Pineda and sophomore Alex Rose scored the two goals during regulation while Pineda, Kelly, Skahan and sophomore Raul Aguilera all converted penalties.