The North Carolina men’s soccer team (9-5-1, 3-4 ACC) rallied in the second half to upset No. 13 Virginia Tech (9-3-3, 3-3-1 ACC), 2-0, in Blacksburg.
The first half started poorly for the Tar Heels, with the Hokies getting a strong offensive boost and outshooting North Carolina eight to two.
Finally, in what seemed like a break for the Tar Heels, senior Milo Garvanian was given a penalty kick opportunity at the 36th minute, but it was saved by Virginia Tech goalkeeper Ben Martino. Entering halftime, the Tar Heels were looking outmatched after a limited offensive performance, but were lucky to still be tied at zeros.
As the second half rolled around though, North Carolina was able to find its groove and completely turned the tide against the Hokies. Shortly after the break in the 52nd minute, graduate forward Santiago Herrera notched a goal off another penalty kick opportunity, putting the Tar Heels up 1-0.
As the second half continued, North Carolina was able to dominate both offensively and defensively, holding Virginia Tech to one shot for the duration of the 45 minutes.
In the 76th minute, the Tar Heels were able to boost the score to 2-0 with Garvanian able to find the back of the net on his second opportunity. He was able to score off of an assist from sophomore Yaya Bakayoko, who recorded his second straight game with an assist.
North Carolina was able to end the half outshooting the Hokies seven to one, marking nine shots total for both teams by the end of the match.
Who stood out?
Garvanian, Herrera and Bakayoko stood out on the offensive side of the ball, with the first two each recording a goal and Bakayoko recording an assist.
Herrera continues to be one of North Carolina’s top players, making this his fourth goal of the season. Garvanian netted his third goal of the season.
Graduate student goalkeeper Alec Smir posted one of his best games of the season, holding Virginia Tech scoreless off of two shots on goal and nine shots faced. Smir has had a fantastic season for the Tar Heels, and has been the leading reason as to why all nine of North Carolina’s wins this year have been shutouts.
When was it decided?
The match was decided after the Tar Heels netted their second goal and continued to dominate Virginia Tech on both sides of the ball. Once they were up two goals, they were not letting the Hokies make a miracle comeback in the remaining minutes.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels look to hop back into the top 25, and should be in the discussion to do so after their win in Blacksburg. They dropped out of the top 25 after two losses to ACC opponents Wake Forest and Louisville. Now, North Carolina needs to focus on finishing the regular season strong and building momentum for the upcoming ACC championships.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels close the regular season against Notre Dame at 4:30 p.m. on Friday at Dorrance Field.
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