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Tar Heels fall to No. 4 Virginia, 2-1, in extra time thriller

Senior midfielder and captain Mauricio Pineda (2) dribbles the ball while junior midfielder Raul Aguilera (28) watches during a game against Syracuse at Dorrance Field on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The Tarheels lost 3-4.

The North Carolina men’s soccer team (7-7-3, 3-5 ACC) lost its final regular season match against No. 4 Virginia (14-1-1, 6-1-1 ACC) after a deciding 100th minute goal put the Cavaliers ahead, 2-1.

What happened?

Virginia took an early lead in the fifth minute with a header from sophomore forward Daryl Dike. 

Following Dike's opening goal, the two sides played a scoreless 40 minutes, with the Cavaliers outshooting North Carolina 10-3 in the first half. UNC’s lone shot on goal came from first-year forward Jonathan Jimenez in the 15th minute, but the shot was headed for the center of the goal, an easy save for Virginia's Colin Shutler. 

Coming out of the break, North Carolina’s offensive attack intensified as the Tar Heels beat Virginia in shots on goal during the second half, 9-2. None of these chances would tie the match until junior midfielder Raul Aguilera rocketed the ball into the top of the net in the 78th minute for his first goal of the season. Aguilera’s goal was preceded by a shot from senior midfielder Jeremy Kelly that was deflected to send the ball directly into Aguilera’s path.

With Aguilera's goal came a chippy, back-and-forth ending to regulation that saw the exchange of multiple yellow cards and opportunities for both sides. Despite the match opening up offensively, no more goals came, and the match was pushed into a golden-goal extra time. 

UNC outshot Virginia, 4-2, in the extra time period, but North Carolina would lose the match after a 100th minute corner kick from the Cavaliers. As the ball came in from the corner, Virginia's Bret Halsey gathered it and blasted a shot that first-year defender Andreas Ueland slid into, finding the back of the net to end the match.

Who stood out?

Aguilera’s 78th minute goal for North Carolina was not only UNC's lone goal in the match, but it was the midfielder’s first goal of the season for the Tar Heels. The junior also led the team with three shots overall and two shots on goal. 

Aguilera nearly won the match for UNC in extra time with a chance in the 94th minute that would have given his team a game-sealing second goal.

When was it decided?

Despite the gap in the standings coming into Friday’s contest, the conference rivals played an evenly contested match.

In a match that saw only three goals, one of which wasn't in regulation time, each moment was a turning point in the competition. Aguilera’s goal in the 78th minute ensured that the match would be a battle until the end, but the ensuing momentum for North Carolina was held off by Shutler. 

Shutler finished the match with five saves and turned down late attempts from Aguilera and senior Jelani Pieters that would have given UNC a victory. 

The match finally came to a head in the 100th minute, with Ueland’s goal ending the game in favor of Virginia.

Why does it matter?

While the loss was North Carolina's fifth in its last six games, forcing extra time in a road match against the No. 4 team in the country shows signs of progression.

Despite its recent skid, UNC earned a home match in the first round of the ACC tournament and will be looking to make a deep run in the postseason.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will be back at Dorrance Field on Tuesday, Nov. 5, hosting Syracuse in the first round of the ACC tournament. 


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