Alec Smir sat on the ground, his head in his hands as the Syracuse men’s soccer team ran toward the player in front of him.
Jelani Pieters laid on the ground, his hands resting on his forehead. Mauricio Pineda turned his back to the crowd and Santiago Herrera looked lost. Matt Constant and Alex Rose jogged over to Smir, suppressing whatever they were feeling in the moment to focus on their teammates.
This isn’t how North Carolina expected it to end.
The Tar Heels (7-7-4, 3-5-0 ACC) tied 0-0 with Syracuse (7-5-5, 2-4-2 ACC), which still keeps them as an option for the NCAA Tournament. But after two overtime sudden death periods, UNC fell 5-3 in penalty kicks.
The Orange will advance to the next round of the ACC Tournament, while UNC await the results of the NCAA Tournament selection announcement on Nov. 18.
“It’s funny because it sums up our season a bit,” senior midfielder Jack Skahan said. “... We just didn’t get it done tonight.”
The first half was prominently dominated by the midfield, although Syracuse got off seven shots while UNC only had three, two from first-year defender Blake Malone.
“The game is decided in the box,” head coach Carlos Somoano said. “You got to be able to stop goals and score goals. We weren’t great at either.”
But when the two teams came out for the second half, the game changed.