The North Carolina men’s soccer team (3-1-2, 3-1-2 ACC) took to Dorrance field and snagged a win against the Duke Blue Devils (2-5, 2-4 ACC). The 2-0 win was a turnaround from the team's last three games, which consisted of two ties and a loss ahead of next week's ACC Tournament.
The match started out with a strong offense from the Blue Devils. They kept the ball on UNC's side for most of the first half, but didn’t have many shots. The Tar Heels managed a strong enough defense against the Blue Devils to keep them from scoring, but not enough to get the ball to the other side of the field.
The Tar Heels earned a penalty kick but it was stopped abruptly by Duke. About seven minutes in, North Carolina senior forward Santiago Herrera nearly scored a goal off the woodwork before it was cleared out of Duke's defense.
With five minutes left in the first half, Duke sophomore forward Scotty Taylor took a shot at the goal, but North Carolina junior keeper Alec Smir stopped it with a clean block. The first half ended with no goals on either side, two shot attempts by Duke and four shot attempts by North Carolina.
The second half began with a stronger attack from the Tar Heels.
With about 35 minutes left in the match, senior forward Lucas del Rosario used impressive footwork to cut inside from the sideline and move the ball towards the goal before flicking a short cross into senior forward Giovanni Montesdeoca in the box. Just a few yards from the goal, Montesdeoca quickly guided the ball into the back of the net with a header at point blank range.
The intensity was high as the two teams battled for the ball with time running out. The Tar Heels wanted another goal to secure their victory, but the Blue Devils needed one to tie up the game. With seven minutes left in the match, first-year forward Akeim Clarke passed the ball to senior forward Taff Wadda near the penalty mark for the Tar Heels' second goal of the game, giving them a strong lead and a win.
Who stood out?
Del Rosario had outstanding footwork throughout the night and kept the ball on Duke's half of the pitch, always moving it towards the goal. In one spectacular play, Rosario moved the ball quickly and efficiently towards the goal, keeping off all of the defenders to assist Montesdeoca in the first goal of the game.
When was it decided?
After the Tar Heels' first goal, the energy on the field picked up and the Tar Heels showed their strong offensive skills. With Wadda’s kick into the goal giving the Tar Heels their second score so late in the second half, it was clear that North Carolina had won this match.
Why does it matter?
Coming off of two ties and a loss in their last three games, this win helped to turn around the Tar Heels' season and end on a high note for fans. The energy from this victory should inspire and motivate the team to carry a winning attitude into the upcoming ACC Tournament.
When do they play next?
This was the team's final match before the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Nov. 15. The Tar Heels will face Notre Dame in Chapel Hill at 2 p.m. in that first-round matchup.
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