The No. 11 North Carolina men’s soccer team took down No. 16 Notre Dame, 2-0, on Friday in a ranked in-conference matchup.
The Tar Heels started the game very aggressively. They had three shots and four corner kicks in just the first ten minutes. Senior Jack Skahan nearly had a spectacular goal, blasting the ball against the crossbar.
UNC scored its first goal in the 14th minute from senior Jelani Pieters. The ball was bouncing all around the box after a save was made by Notre Dame senior goalie Duncan Turbull. Pieters used great positioning to his advantage and knocked the ball into the goal, giving the Tar Heels the lead.
The Fighting Irish made a strong push to tie the game at the start of the second half. They hit a ball off the crossbar, but it soared harmlessly out of bounds.
North Carolina responded to its opponent’s surge by taking control of the game by a 68th minute goal from first-year Blake Malone. Malone tracked a beautiful corner by Skahan and headed the ball past the outstretched arms of the goalie.
UNC would hold onto that 2-0 lead for the rest of the match.
Who stood out?
The defense was impressive for North Carolina, stifling the Notre Dame offense. As a unit, they held the Fighting Irish to only one shot on goal. They kept pressure away from their own box and helped feed balls to their attackers, which fueled scoring chances of their own.
They also had an impact on the offensive end. Malone got his first goal of his collegiate career off corner kick that gave the Tar Heels a more comfortable lead.
When was it decided?
Notre Dame came into the second half hungry for a goal. The team applied a significant amount of pressure on the offensive end, testing the UNC defenders.
However, North Carolina was able to fight it off and responded with chances of their own. The momentum was shifted back to its side, leading to a second goal to extend the lead.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels have defeated their second ranked ACC team, improving their conference record to 2-0. They did it in dominant fashion, tallying six shots on goals compared to the Fighting Irish’s one.
Coming off of a disappointing tie with unranked Davidson, the team came out aggressive and maintained that style of play for the majority of the game. They outplayed a very good Notre Dame team, helping them get back on track before facing another ranked opponent next weekend.
When do they play next?
UNC hopes to keep their momentum going as they host in-state rival No.15 Duke on Friday, September 27 at 6 p.m.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.