The No.16 North Carolina men’s soccer team (4-2-1, 0-2-0 ACC) lost to its rival, No.12 Duke (5-1-0, 2-0-0 ACC), in a 3-0 shutout on Sunday night in Chapel Hill for the team's second straight conference loss.
In the fifth minute, Duke got on the board first when a shot by Shakur Mohammed found the back of the net to make the score 1-0. Just two minutes later, UNC looked to equalize when junior Cameron Fisher shot on goal, but was stymied by Duke goalkeeper, Eliot Hamill.
The Blue Devils scored again a few minutes later when Amir Daley rebounded a missed shot and put in a goal of his own. The Tar Heels attempted to even up the score less than two minutes later with two shots by sophomore Ernest Bawa and graduate Santiago Herrera, but neither were successful. UNC continued to fight with eight more shots, but ultimately fell short and the score remained 2-0 at halftime.
Duke dominated the first half and played fast and hard, stealing the ball several times and moving it precisely and quickly down the field. UNC hustled hard and out-shot the Blue Devils but couldn’t net any goals.
The second half did not bring redemption for the Tar Heels. Fisher attempted another shot early but was stopped by Hamill once again. Duke solidified its victory with their third and final goal less than five minutes into the second half. Both teams got increasingly more physical as the half went on, with three yellow cards — which led to a red card — for the Blue Devils and two yellow cards for the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels continued to try and claw their way to at least one goal to the last minute, but when the game ended, the scoreboard signaled a 3-0 Blue Devil victory.
“We’ve just got to put the pieces together, the connections are not there right now,” said head coach Carlos Somoano. “We’re trying to restructure the team, reorganize the team after a couple injuries so we’re just trying to figure that out.”
Who stood out?
Junior Cameron Fisher put up an impressive fight against Duke, shooting four times and three times on goal. He maintained a commanding presence on the field, proving himself to be a key player at the midfield position.
Another standout performance came from graduate Santiago Herrera. Herrera was an essential element of the team’s offense, and proved instrumental in many plays. He was responsible for three shots and one shot on goal.
When was it decided?
Within the first five minutes of the game, Duke established a dominance that North Carolina couldn’t quite get out from underneath. The Blue Devils did not give the Tar Heels any room to breathe — no matter where the ball was, UNC played to the last second and fought hard for every ball, but in the end the Tar Heels were bested.
Why does it matter?
The loss drops the Tar Heels to 0-2 in conference play and 4-2-1 overall, marking the first time since 2006 that UNC has opened its conference slate with two straight losses.
UNC defeated Duke three times last year and many expected the team to repeat those results on Sunday. If the Tar Heels want to make a deep run in the ACC Tournament in November — or even echo the season they had last year — they are going to have to find their footing and rhythm as a team again before they amass any more losses.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will face the Virginia Cavaliers in their third conference game of the season this Saturday in Charlottesville. The game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
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