It’s all coming full circle for Mauricio Pineda.
For the first time since his first year, the senior midfielder notched multiple goals in a game on Tuesday night, a 3-1 win for No. 18 North Carolina over West Virginia.
Pineda, a team captain, is also tied for first in goals on the team with five on the season, as many as he had last season.
His two goals came back to back, with the first coming off a corner kick in the 28th minute. Pineda fielded the ball, took a couple dribbles to beat the defender, then blasted a shot over the goalkeeper’s head into the top of the net.
“The first goal just kind of landed at my feet,” Pineda said. “I took it on my left and just hit it as hard as I can. It was a good feeling. And then the second goal came right after, so I didn’t even have time to think about it.”
Less than a minute later, he scored again off of an assist from Jelani Pieters. The game was Pineda's first multi-goal performance since Oct. 11, 2016, when he scored a hat trick against UNC-Asheville.
“Mauricio is a spectacular player,” head coach Carlos Somoano said, “and he’s gotten better every year.”
The two early goals were largely a result of a fast-paced game. UNC peppered the West Virginia goalkeeper and had 10 shots prior to Pineda’s goals.
“Carolina soccer is high tempo, and that’s what you’ll see,” Somoano said. “... We want to be able to execute the ideas that we have faster than the opponent, and if you can do that you’re going to be pretty successful.”