The North Carolina men’s soccer team (5-2-1, 1-2-0 ACC) earned its first conference win of the season on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Virginia, behind goals from graduate forwards Santiago Herrera and Alex Rose.
The Tar Heels and the Cavaliers were evenly matched in the first half, as both teams each recorded two shots on goal. Neither team was able to find the back of the net, however, and the match remained scoreless heading into the break.
In the second half, UNC came out with a sense of urgency, putting up nine shots while holding Virginia to only three. In the 78th minute, the Tar Heels were rewarded a penalty kick after a hand ball from Virginia, and UNC capitalized with a goal by Herrera.
Six minutes later, the Tar Heels added an insurance goal from Rose and the defense locked down the Cavaliers the rest of the way to seal the 2-0 win.
Who stood out?
Herrera’s goal marks his eighth goal in eight games so far on the season. Rose’s goal increased his tally to four in eight games. Graduate goalkeeper Alec Smir recorded his fifth shutout of the season in net for the Tar Heels, picking up three saves.
For Virginia, Holden Brown made three saves. Leo Afonso, Daniel Wright and Jules Anderson recorded the Cavaliers' shots on goal.
When was it decided?
The game hung in the balance late, as both teams remained scoreless with just over 10 minutes left in regulation. Herrera's penalty gave the Tar Heels the late lead, and the second goal from Rose clinched the eventual win.
Why does it matter?
After recording defeats in their first two ACC matches of the season — a 4-0 loss on the road to Pittsburgh and a 3-0 loss to Duke at home — the victory over Virginia marks the Tar Heels' first conference win of the season.
“It was really positive obviously to refocus and bounce back,” head coach Carlos Somoano said of the win. “[To] kind of recommit to the best version of ourselves. So I’m very pleased we were able to do that.”
But the Tar Heels will not fixate on the result, said Somoano.
“We’re turning our attention to the next game already. So we’re not going to spend a lot of time celebrating,” Somoano said. “We’re proud, we feel good, but we’re 100 percent looking forward to the next game and training tomorrow and trying to get our edge back.”
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels are on the road again on Wednesday for a non-conference matchup against UNC Wilmington, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
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