In Friday night’s regular season finale for UNC men’s soccer, forward Giovanni Montesdeoca helped North Carolina secure a 2-0 victory over Duke — ending the team’s three-game winless streak.
Montesdeoca, whose 2019 season was compromised by an ACL injury, found the back of the net for the first time this year, despite sharing the team lead for shots at seven. His play so far this season had been aggressive while trying to find the form that he had back in 2018 when he scored eight goals.
With the game being scoreless at the end of the first half, the Tar Heels played with a newfound energy at the beginning of the second.
“We weren’t happy with how we played in the first half, so we tried to step it up in the second half and I think we did a really good job with that," first-year midfielder Tim Schels said.
Ten minutes into the second half, the Tar Heels started an attack, and senior Lucas del Rosario received the ball on the right side of the box. After a combination of moves, he was able to beat his defender and send in a cross to Montesdeoca, who headed it past the Duke goalkeeper and put the Tar Heels up 1-0.
Montesdeoca was happy to finally be able to knock one in and end his scoreless drought.
“It honestly builds confidence going forward," he said. "It was a great feeling to come back home and just get a goal here. It was unbelievable."
The senior forward said he hopes that the goal is able to propel his play as well as the team’s in the upcoming ACC Championship games.
“Obviously, I can only guarantee one game, but I’m having the mindset of three more games," he said. "That’s our mindset. Going to the championship and, hopefully, to pick up the trophy. Honestly, with COVID and everything, it’s honestly been a battle this whole semester, and I feel like we’ve been fighting. I think there is a good team spirit and I love playing with these guys.”
Montesdeoca gave credit to UNC head coach Carlos Somoano for the goal, explaining that his coach had been instructing him to make his runs near the front post, which is where Montesdeoca found himself in scoring position on Friday night.
Somoano believes Montesdeoca has still been important to the team despite the forward not showing the same goal-scoring ability that he did in 2018.
“He’s got so much character," Somoano said. "He makes our team better even when he’s not on top of his game.”
Somoano was also aware of the importance of Montedesoca’s goal ahead of next week's ACC Championship. The senior's first goal of the season helped ignite the Tar Heels' offense in the 2-0 win after a late-game goal by Taff Wadda for their first victory since Oct. 9 against Clemson.
“I’m really happy for him because you know, he came off his ACL injury last year and has been trying to find his form,” Somoano said. “He’s just grinding so hard and been playing so hard, but he hasn’t come back at the same standard as he left. Obviously, it’s been a year and half between his injury and you know, COVID.
“Tonight, I thought the second half was the best I’ve seen him play."
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