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Tuesday January 18th

UNC men’s soccer ‘locked in’ for 6-0 win over Harvard

<p>UNC midfielder Jack Skahan (8) drives the ball forward against Virginia Tech at Finley Fields on Nov. 4, 2018.</p>
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UNC midfielder Jack Skahan (8) drives the ball forward against Virginia Tech at Finley Fields on Nov. 4, 2018.

When the No. 20 North Carolina men’s soccer team is “mission focused," like against Harvard on Friday night, the Tar Heels are tough to beat.

“Every single day you’re locked in,” senior Jack Skahan said. “You’re focused. You’re trying to get better with the single goal in mind — winning every game we play.”

After starting off the season with a nerve-racking double overtime tie against Creighton and falling 2-1 to UCF, something clicked for the Tar Heels that resulted in collective explosive play on Friday night. UNC (1-1-1) blew past Harvard with a 6-0 victory, tallying over 30 shots by the end of the night.

“I felt like we were getting better,” head coach Carlos Somoano said. “... I think we did a much better job of sticking to the game plan. We certainly weren’t perfect, a lot of things still to work on, but all I’m asking the guys is to try and get better every single day.”

The Tar Heels came out of the gates quickly, with junior Alex Rose scoring a goal within the first minute of play. It was Rose's third goal of the season.

Not even 10 minutes later, Skahan doubled UNC's lead.

He had multiple near misses against UCF the previous weekend, and it was only a matter of time before the senior midfielder found the back of the net. When the Crimson defenders gave Skahan too much space, he rocketed a shot 20 yards out from the goal, driving the ball on the ground to the opposite corner. 

“We work all the time, especially during the spring, on long distance shots. So I just let it go,” Skahan said. “It went in, and it doesn’t always go in.”

While UNC didn’t score for the remainder of the first half, the defense preserved the shutout while the offense continued to press, taking another 14 shots for a total of 18 before half. 

“We locked it down,” defender Matt Constant said. “We had a couple moments here or there where someone got beat. I personally had times where I got beat, but guys bailed me out, and that’s what it’s all about — bailing each other out.”

The Tar Heels came out the second half with as much energy as the first. 

Sophomore Antonio Lopez sent a backheeled pass to junior Santiago Herrera, who found the back of the net to push UNC up 3-0 in the 53rd minute. Lopez would later go on to have a goal of his own in the 67th minute. 

Eight minutes later, Skahan became the only player to score more than once on Friday. While he was thrilled about the team win, the senior commented on how his goals weren’t “completely accurate” to how he played that night. 

Over the next seven minutes, Somoano made six different subs, giving first-years and reserves more playing time with a 5-0 lead. However, the Tar Heels weren’t done scoring yet.

The final goal of the night came from first-year midfielder Cameron Fisher after he received a pass from Rose, turned on a defender and beat the Harvard keeper. 

By the end of the night, UNC outshot Harvard 35-4 with 18 of the shots on goal, while the Crimson only had two. 

This season, North Carolina picked “mission focused” as its theme for the season, and both Constant and Skahan said Friday night’s play showcased the phrase. 

“Getting to celebrate six times was a nice change,” Constant said. 

Somoano agreed and said, “The good news is we aren’t peaking too early so we still got a lot of work to do … I believe the best is yet to come, but that’s not going to happen automatically. 

“We got to stay mission focused.”

@mwc13_3

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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