The North Carolina men’s soccer team (5-3-1, 1-2-0 ACC) lost to UNC Wilmington (6-3-0, 1-1-0 CAA), 2-1, on the road Wednesday night.
The Tar Heels and the Seahawks had a competitive first half, as the two teams combined for 11 fouls and four bookings.
Both teams had equal opportunities to open up the scoring, as each side attempted four shots in the first 45 minutes. The defenses remained stout, however, and the game was scoreless heading into the break.
To open the second half, the Tar Heels decided to switch up their rotation by making five substitutions.
The chippy play seemed to continue after the break, as UNC Wilmington’s Nicolas Molina received a red card in the first nine minutes. Despite being outnumbered, the Seahawks were able to get on the board first just eight minutes later when Jacob Evans buried a free kick to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Although the Tar Heels had a one-player advantage after the red card, it was immediately squandered after sophomore defender Riley Thomas was sent off in the 62nd minute. Both sides played with 10 players the rest of the way.
In the 80th minute, the Tar Heels were finally able to break through after sophomore midfielder Tim Schels equalized the score, 1-1.
The tie wouldn't last long, however. Less than two minutes later, the Seahawks were awarded a corner kick and after the ball ricocheted off Wilmington’s Adam Hillis, it found its way into the goal to give the team a 2-1 lead.
In the final stages of the contest, the Tar Heels were unable to make a final push, which sealed their defeat.
Who stood out?
In a game where the main storyline was the two players that were sent off, several players that stayed on the field proved to be the difference in the close match.
Schels was responsible for putting the Tar Heels on the board after the Seahawks took an early lead. Additionally, graduate forward Jonathan Jimenez did his part, leading the team with four shots.
Evans’ free kick for Wilmington was arguably the play of the night, and was the moment that opened up the scoring for both sides.
When was it decided?
With the game hanging in the balance with less than 10 minutes to play, Hillis’ goal proved to be the clincher for the Seahawks.
Although UNC earned a corner kick with 10 seconds remaining, it was unsuccessful, and the game ended shortly after.
Why does it matter?
After seemingly turning the corner with a win at Virginia on Saturday, UNC’s loss to the Seahawks was another step backward for a team that has fallen out of the top 25.
Although the loss will not affect the team’s conference record, the Tar Heels will have plenty of areas to improve before they begin the bulk of their ACC schedule.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will look to avenge the loss this Sunday at Dorrance Field against rival N.C. State. The game will begin at 7 p.m.