A simple foul once again sealed the fate of the North Carolina men’s soccer team on Tuesday.
As an Appalachian State player hit the ground in the box, the referee blew his whistle and signaled for a penalty kick. Players lined up all around the box, while UNC goalkeeper Alec Smir shifted from foot to foot before diving to the right.
App State's Alex Hernandez drilled the ball into the left corner, creating a gap that UNC wasn't able to overcome.
The Tar Heels (7-6-3, 3-4-0) fell 1-0 to the Mountaineers (10-4-1, 2-1-0) in their final regular season home game, marking their first loss to App State since 1980.
“It’s a tough one to swallow for us,” junior defender Matt Constant said. “A couple errors here and there that we should’ve polished on. Probably could’ve finished a couple more chances. But overall, I think the team fought hard. Just didn’t end up in our favor.”
As for head coach Carlos Somoano’s thoughts on the match, he didn’t have much to say.
“Just disappointed,” Somoano said. “Wish we could’ve gotten something out of it. Tried.”
The Tuesday night matchup was truly a defensive game, similar to how it's been most of the season for the Tar Heels. They kept App State to five shots, two of which were on goal. The defensive line, which included Constant in the starting lineup for the first time since Oct. 1 against UNCW, held the Mountaineers, while UNC’s hot-and-cold offense failed to produce.
Earlier this season, North Carolina scored multiple goals in six straight games, the longest such streak since 2017. But in the span of the last four games, the Tar Heels have only scored once, with none coming against conference opponents.