With just four seconds remaining, first-year Sebastian Berhalter whipped a free kick into the box looking for a game-winning header.
It looked like the No. 11 North Carolina men’s soccer team was going to escape Tuesday's non-conference game as victors when junior Santiago Herrera put his head to the ball for a forceful shot.
However, the Tar Heels (3-1-2) came away with defeated looks when the ball found the Davidson (1-3-1) goalkeeper’s hands. The last second save earned the Wildcats a 0-0 draw, an excellent result from their perspective.
UNC, on the other hand, was disappointed with the outcome, which came against a team whose only victory this season came against Wake Technical Community College in overtime.
“It’s a little unfortunate,” senior captain Mauricio Pineda said. “Obviously we want to win every game."
Head coach Carlos Somoano was a bit more blunt in his response: “Obviously, I’m disappointed.”
The Tar Heels dominated the stat sheet on a scoreless night, leading 14-1 in shots and 3-0 in shots on goal.
But Davidson “parked the bus,” and would at times play 10 men behind the ball on defense. The usually potent UNC attack struggled to capitalize on its chances.
“We don’t really focus on the opponent too much,” Pineda said. “We just try to stick to our game plan to the best that we can.”
UNC’s defense, on the other hand, clearly came to play, not allowing a shot after the 12th minute of the game. That means Davidson had zero shots in 98 minutes of game time.
“They had one shot and a shutout,” junior defender Matt Constant said. “So we did our job pretty well.”
The North Carolina back line has held firm the last four games, allowing just one goal over that stretch.
“We just keep doing the same stuff,” Constant said. “Stay as a unit, cover each other, bail each other out. If we can limit teams to less than three or four shots a game, I think our chances are pretty good of keeping a shutout.”
Because Davidson mostly sat back on defense, the UNC defense was also responsible for starting the North Carolina attack. That type of gameplay meant that there needed to be a lot of crisp passes to get the ball upfield.
“We just passed the ball too slow,” Somoano said. “It always gave them comfort to be able to shift around and get numbers behind the ball.”
Davidson continued to stifle the Tar Heel attack into overtime. UNC only manufactured two shots after regulation, both coming in the second overtime.
“In general, I don’t know what it was,” Somoano said. “The legs, the minds looked tired. We played a tired game today from the outset.”
Somoano added that he believes UNC may have fell victim to the student-athlete grind. He mentioned that the team may have been tired because it was just four days away from its last game, a 3-1 win at Virginia Tech, and that many of his players had exams this week.
That doesn’t bode well for the Tar Heels and their upcoming schedule. The team will turn around and play No. 16 Notre Dame on Friday, and will need to get its energy back. Then, UNC will have another ranked ACC matchup against Duke the following week.
In an up-and-down season so far, the team knows that a short memory is crucial.
"The only thing we can do now," Pineda said, "is focus on our next game.”
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