The North Carolina men’s soccer team (2-0, 2-0 ACC) won its home opener against Clemson (2-1, 0-1 ACC) in dramatic fashion off a buzzer-beating goal from graduate transfer Filippo Zattarin.
The Tar Heels started out slow in the first half, not recording a shot until the 37th minute. It was a gritty, physical match with Clemson committing 14 fouls and picking up four yellow cards. Those penalties gave UNC ample opportunities from free kicks, which paid off in the end.
The North Carolina came out more aggressive in the second, controlling the ball more and pressing the defense. UNC sophomore forward Jonathan Jimenez had a quick shot on goal which Clemson goalkeeper George Marks was able to get his hand on for the save. The Tigers offense responded with two shots on goal but were unable to find the back of the net.
After being outshot 6-3 in the first half, the Tar Heels were able to flip the script after halftime, outshooting Clemson 8-4 in the second for a total game lead on shots of 11-10.
The game remained chippy throughout, and a Clemson penalty in the 90th minute set up the deciding free kick with five seconds to go. A well placed kick by junior midfielder Milo Garvanian allowed Zattarin to head the ball into the back of the net as time expired.
Who stood out?
Zattarin was the star of the night, not only having the deciding goal but also making a few crucial defensive plays that were able to stifle the Clemson attack.
Junior goalkeeper Alec Smir, who was recently named ACC Player of the Week, recorded his second straight shutout. Smir had two saves, both in the second half, and commanded the defense which had another strong showing.