On Sunday, in a double overtime rivalry match that could’ve gone either way, the No. 5 North Carolina men’s soccer team (2-1-2, 2-1-2 ACC) scrapped out a goalless draw against the winless N.C. State Wolfpack (0-5-1, 0-4-1 ACC) at Dorrance Field.
In a very physical match, UNC’s first big chance came 21 minutes into the first half, when senior midfielder Lucas del Rosario had a curled effort deflected out of the box. Though they didn’t score, the Tar Heels were then able to begin dominating possession in midfield, taking more of the game to the Wolfpack’s half.
This remained the tempo for the rest of the half, with UNC constantly passing around the Wolfpack’s goal, and N.C. State getting minimal counterattacking chances. 36 minutes had passed before N.C. State forward Pau Palacin registered his team’s first shot, a header sent over the top right of the goal.
However, despite three corner kicks and a strong pressing attack, the Tar Heels could not see any of those attacks all the way through. As the half ended, all both teams had to show for it was a pair of shots each.
As the second half began, graduate transfer defender Joe Pickering had two early shots — one on goal — but both chances eventually fizzled out. The attacking became more balanced as the half progressed, and although UNC was still playing a fast-paced press, N.C. State was able to counterattack and send balls into the Tar Heels’ box more often.
That back and forth pace remained the norm for much of the half. With 11 minutes left in the second half, del Rosario had a shot from within the box deflected, before sending the second chance shot over the crossbar. Immediately after, the Wolfpack worked the ball all the way downfield, where Palacin’s second shot on goal was saved by junior goalkeeper Alex Smir. It would be the last shot on target of regulation play, with both teams scrapping hard but unable to break the 0-0 deadlock.
Both overtime periods saw much of the same play, with a shot on goal from senior forward Taff Wadda being UNC’s last effort to end the 0-0 draw.
Who stood out?
Graduate transfer defender Filippo Zattarin was crucial to the Tar Heels’ defensive efforts, sweeping across the back line multiple times to clear any long balls or wayward chances away, and preventing numerous N.C. State chances.
UNC’s brightest attacking sparks came from Pickering and del Rosario, who combined for over half of the team’s ten shots during the match. Pickering, in addition to playing all 110 minutes of the match, registered one of two shots on goal from UNC, the other being Wadda’s last second effort.
When was it decided?
The game wasn’t decided until the very last moments of the second overtime period, when a UNC free kick right outside the opponent’s box whipped directly in front of goal before going out for a goal kick. Only when the ball sailed through the air and the referee blew the final whistle was the game decided for good.
Why does it matter?
This match is the second time that the Tar Heels have failed to score in a match all season, the first being a 1-0 loss to South Division leader Wake Forest. The Wolfpack, meanwhile, sit bottom of the ACC, with their only point coming from today’s draw.
If the Tar Heels lose to Duke next week, they could fall to fourth place in the ACC South Division, likely pitting them against undefeated Pittsburgh in the first round of the ACC Tournament. This game was — and now the next one is — a must-win if they hope to maintain their current standings in the conference.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will have a five-day break before ending their regular season with another rivalry match against the Blue Devils at Dorrance Field on Friday, Nov. 6.
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