The No. 21 UNC men’s soccer team fell to unranked Louisville 1-0 on the Tar Heels’ senior night. This was the fourth game in a row North Carolina has gone without a win.
The time of possession throughout the game wouldn’t reflect the score at the final whistle. The Tar Heels had a clear edge coming out of the opening kick, creating a couple excellent chances in the first few minutes of the game.
First-year striker Jonathan Jimenez received a through-ball near the top of the box and tapped the ball around the last defender to beat, putting him in a 1-1 situation with the Louisville keeper. Jimenez elected to cross the ball to junior forward Alex Rose. A Louisville defender clipped the ball away from Rose and sent it rolling towards the open goal, but it deflected off the right post and was cleared by the keeper.
North Carolina held the advantage in possession throughout the game, but it was Louisville's strong counter attacks and athletic front line that would prove too much for the Tar Heels.
The first and only goal of the game strongly reflected the Cardinals’ direct style of play.
The Louisville goalkeeper was forced to come off of his line to clear a through-ball sent in by the Tar Heel offense. The clearance traveled the distance of the field and was received at the top right corner of the box by a Louisville forward who controlled the ball and quickly fired a shot that was saved junior goalkeeper Alec Smir.
Unable to corral the strike, the ball deflected off the gloves of Smir and out to the top of the box where another Cardinal forward hit a laser of a shot into the back of the net in the 35th minute of play.
The Tar Heels went into the break down 1-0. Their finishing woes would continue in the second half as they searched for an equalizing goal.
North Carolina’s best chances to equalize wouldn’t come until the last ten minutes of play.
Junior Raul Aguilera had an incredible volley from well outside the box in the 84th minute that zipped toward the goal and careened off the crossbar and over for a Louisville goal kick.
In a last ditch effort by the Tar Heels, senior captain Mauricio Pineda received a through-ball that gave him a one-on-one opportunity with the Louisville keeper in the 90th minute. Pineda connected with the ball well and put the shot on frame, but the Cardinal keeper made a diving save to preserve their 1-0 lead.
Who stood out?
On his senior night, Pineda did what he usually does: control the middle of the field and create goal scoring opportunities for the Tar Heels. The senior captain played all 90 minutes and was responsible for three of North Carolina’s 10 shots.
Senior winger Jack Skahan also had a productive night, getting off two shots and using his speed on the right side of the field to create chances for the Tar Heels.
When was it decided?
This game truly wasn’t decided until the final whistle blew. The Louisville defense was able to survive a relentless North Carolina attack in the final minutes of the game and preserve the 1-0 margin that they held for the majority of the match.
Why does it matter?
This loss marks the fourth game in a row where the Tar Heels have gone without a win, tying Campbell earlier in the week and losing their two games before that. UNC will surely drop out of the top 25 next week as their record falls to 7-5-3 on the year and 3-4 in ACC play.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will look to right the ship against Appalachian State in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
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