No. 4 North Carolina started off their season strong with a 7-0 win against Bucknell at Dorrance Field on Thursday night.
UNC set the tone early in the fifth minute, as fifth-year senior forward Alex Rose put a beautiful low cross from junior forward Jonathan Jimenez into the bottom left corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Tar Heels kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more goals in the next 16 minutes with crosses finished by junior forward Cameron Fisher and fifth-year senior forward Santiago Herrera respectively.
The offense stayed on the attack the entire first half as sophomore midfielder Ernest Bawa and graduate student midfielder Chris Sullivan extended the Tar Heels lead to 5-0, making the game all but over.
Entering the second half, UNC continued to pressure on the Bucknell defense with a 55th minute goal from Sullivan to make the score 6-0.
When it was all said and done, North Carolina converted on seven of their 14 shots on goal, and with fortifying defense throughout, Bucknell never came close to scoring as the Tar Heels maintained the shutout.
Who stood out?
Fisher was fantastic in the first half, scoring a goal off of a soaring cross from sophomore midfielder Tim Schels. With one touch on the right side, he smashed the ball into the back of the net to increase the Tar Heels lead to 2-0.
He also assisted on the third goal of the game by Herrera, collecting his own rebound off of a corner kick only to send the ball back into the box for Herrera to head in.
Sullivan also had a solid game, scoring two goals for North Carolina. He scored his first goal off of a rebound from the goalkeeper, and his second came when he capitalized on a miscue from the Bucknell defense and ripped a far post shot from just inside the box.
It was right place at the right time for Sullivan, but his shot power and accuracy was certainly on form tonight.
When was it decided?
The first 15 minutes were crucial for the Tar Heels. Not only did they jump out to a quick 2-0 lead, but they established themselves as the aggressor for the rest of the game as shown by their massive halftime lead.
It seemed like Bucknell had no real chance of scoring, thanks to a solid backline led by graduate student defender Filippo Zattarin and preseason All-American third team goalkeeper Alec Smir.
The ball was consistently in the attacking third for North Carolina, leading to dozens of scoring opportunities.
Why does it matter?
With UNC having a tough loss to Marshall in the College Cup semifinals in May, starting this season off on the right foot is key for 11th year head coach Carlos Somoano.
These first few games are pivotal for the team to build chemistry and get comfortable playing with a new lineup before ACC play begins Sept. 10.
From what UNC fans saw tonight, it is clear that Somoano’s squad is locked in to start the season, with their eyes ultimately set on the ACC Championship in November to bring another title to Chapel Hill.
When do they play next?
UNC's next game is Sunday against VCU at Dorrance Field starting at 7:30 p.m.