The No. 19 North Carolina men’s soccer team (7-4-2, 3-3 ACC) dropped their second straight close contest on Friday night in a 1-0 loss at No. 4 Wake Forest (12-2, 5-1 ACC).
For both ACC rivals, offensive production was scarce to begin the game. The first 45 minutes were defined by futile offense and stifling defense on both ends of the pitch.
UNC sophomore goalkeeper Alec Smir bore the brunt of the defensive responsibility for UNC, keeping the game knotted at zero with a number of point-blank stops. Decisive saves from Smir in the 17th, 38th, and 42nd minutes kept a lopsided half at a neutral score for the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels’ best chance in the first half came in the dying seconds of the 45th minute. Jelani Pieters nearly connected with a promising cross as time expired, but the ball soared over his head and sent the teams into the break with little to show for themselves.
Finally, in the 66th minute, a flurry of attacks from the Tar Heels broke the game open from a drowsy defensive standoff into a thrilling second half contest.
Junior forward Alex Rose opened up the offense for the Tar Heels, but a deflection from the Demon Deacon backline kept UNC off the board.
Just one minute later, midfielder Raul Aguilera fired on goal past the goalkeeper, only to watch it hit the left post and harmless dribble out of play.
This close call lit a fire under the Demon Deacon offense, who proceeded to turn up the pressure on UNC’s defensive unit.