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The Daily Tar Heel

Defense and Pieters step up in UNC men's soccer 2-0 win over UNCW

Jelani Pieters competing in a game against Virginia Tech in 2018. Pieters had a goal and drew a critical foul in UNC's win over UNCW

The North Carolina men’s soccer team shut out UNC-Wilmington in route to a 2-0 victory over the Seahawks on Tuesday evening on Dorrance Field at the UNC Soccer & Lacrosse Stadium. 

What happened?

The Tar Heels opened the scoring in the 13th minute after senior forward Jelani Pieters was taken down in the box, earning a penalty for UNC. Senior midfielder Mauricio Pineda then stepped up and slotted home the penalty to give UNC an early 1-0 lead. 

Three minutes later the Seahawks had an opportunity to tie the game when UNC gave up a foul by their own corner flag. Redshirt senior Danny Reynolds sent in an inviting ball to senior Mark Lindstrom, who was able to get a head on it, but sent the ball high over the bar. 

The rest of the first half was relatively quiet from both teams, with the only one shot on goal coming from UNC. 

Five minutes into the second half the Tar Heels got their second of the night. After the official played the advantage after a UNC-Wilmington foul on the halfway line, the ball made its way to Pieters who ran at his defender one-on-one and was able to bend the ball into the far corner. 

The Tar Heels held onto their lead for the rest of the game, only giving up two shots on goal, both of which were saved by sophomore goalkeeper Alec Smir. 

Who stood out?

Pieters made things happen for the Tar Heels, drawing the penalty that led to the first goal of the game, and scoring the second. Pieters is now second on the team in goals with four on the season, already surpassing his 2018 season total of two. 

The defense stepped up after allowing three goals against Duke in UNC's last game. That match was the first time the Tar Heels allowed three goals since 2014. Against the Seahawks, North Carolina only allowed three shots on goal, tied for the lowest number the team has allowed this season. 

After not appearing during the 2018 season, Smir has established himself as the Tar Heel's starting goalkeeper. His three saves against UNCW were his third most this season. 

When was it decided?

The Tar Heels took the lead in the 13th minute off a penalty kick and maintained the lead for the rest of the night. The Seahawks never found the back of the net, despite two chances late in the second period and a corner kick opportunity. 

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels came into tonight’s matchup fresh off a 3-2 loss against rivals Duke at home. With this win, the team re-establishes its defense against a lesser opponent, and gave UNC a win in between conference games. 

North Carolina is 2-1 so far in ACC matches, and the next game against an unranked Pitt team should give the team an opportunity to right the ship after an up-and-down season through nine games. 

When do they play next?

UNC heads to Pittsburgh on Friday for a matchup against the University of Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. 


@DTHSports |

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