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Wednesday February 24th

No. 3 UNC men's soccer falls to No. 1 Wake Forest 1-0 in overtime for first loss

<p>Senior forward Zach Wright (10) advances the ball against Wake Forest on Oct. 6.</p>
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Senior forward Zach Wright (10) advances the ball against Wake Forest on Oct. 6.

The No. 3 North Carolina men's soccer team narrowly fell in overtime to No. 1 Wake Forest on Sunday, 1-0, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

What happened?

UNC (2-1) sophomore forward Jonathan Jimenez started the game off for the Tar Heels by committing a foul in the third minute, the first of many for North Carolina. Jimenez then had two shots back-to-back before the 10th minute. The first shot was blocked by a Wake Forest (4-1) defender, and the second missed high. Wake Forest defender Cristian Escribano’s shot was saved by North Carolina goalkeeper Alec Smir.

Wake Forest was able to have three more looks at the goal in the next 15 minutes, with the first two missing left, while the third was a low center shot by WFU forward Justin McMaster that was saved by Smir. In those same 15 minutes, the Tar Heels committed six fouls. After 45 minutes of play, North Carolina had only 31 percent of the possession. 

North Carolina came into the second half appearing to have more purpose, with a shot being taken in the first minute by UNC junior Milo Garvanian. At just over 10 minutes into the second half, the Tar Heels’ forward Giovanni Montesdeoca had a shot that missed high right over the Wake Forest goal.

In the 70th minute, North Carolina senior Alex Rose was issued a yellow card for tripping a Wake Forest player. Smir was able to make another skilled save after Wake Forest’s David Wrona shot from just four yards out. 

As the second half was coming to a close, the Tar Heels attempted two shots. The first shot was by midfielder Jacques Bouvery and missed high and to the right. The second shot was from Santiago Herrera, and it was narrowly saved by Demon Deacons goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg. With the scored still tied at 0-0, the game headed into a golden goal overtime.

Following a yellow card, Wake Forest took two corner kicks. The second corner kick resulted in a shot by Wake Forest defender Nico Benalcazar that hit the crossbar and missed. The final shot of the game came in the 97th minute by Demon Deacon Kyle Holcomb to seal a 1-0 win for Wake Forest.

Who stood out?

Smir made three critical saves for the Tar Heels to hold off the Demon Deacons for the entirety of regulation. The goal that ended the game in overtime was the first goal Smir had conceded all season for the Tar Heels. 

“He had a tough one at the end there,” UNC head coach Carlos Somoano said. “He’s definitely been a rock for us this year. To me, he’s one of the top goalkeepers in the country.” 

When was it decided?’

The Tar Heels started off slow but played a hard-fought game throughout the second half. They were able to hold their own against the Demon Deacons in regulation, not allowing a goal despite facing several shots. However, when the last shot by Wake Forest went in during overtime, there was nothing else UNC could do. 

Why does it matter? 

Wake Forest was fresh off a loss against Clemson, who North Carolina recently defeated, but Sunday's loss put an end to the Tar Heels’ undefeated season and brought the all-time series record against Wake Forest to 22-14-10. 

“I think it was a good lesson for us, but it’s North Carolina soccer," Somoano said. "We don’t take moral victories here.”

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will be back in action on Tuesday, Oct. 27, when they will travel to Clemson, South Carolina, for a rematch against the Tigers. North Carolina defeated Clemson 1-0 earlier this season in Chapel Hill.

@elizaahart

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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