The North Carolina men’s soccer team (6-3-1, 2-2 ACC) will host Wake Forest (4-4-1, 1-2-1 ACC) at Dorrance Field on Friday night.
Perhaps the most startling insight revealed when analyzing the teams' common opponents this season is that Wake Forest defeated Pittsburgh 3-1, while UNC suffered its worst loss of the season to Pittsburgh, 4-0. The Demon Deacons have not won any of their last three games, and play William & Mary the Tuesday before their matchup with UNC.
But Friday night in particular is about payback. When the teams last met in May, UNC’s 2-1 upset denied Wake Forest a trip to the College Cup.
After a 3-0-1 start to the season, the Tar Heels have struggled to maintain momentum, alternating between wins and losses in their past seven games. Coming off of a blowout win over N.C. State Sunday night, however, UNC is looking to seize the opportunity to find its rhythm. Friday’s conference game may be the spark needed to rediscover the magic that helped the team upset Stanford and Wake Forest last postseason.
Staying aggressive on offense
North Carolina leads the ACC in shots taken with 188, while Wake Forest is second to last with 118. Key players on offense include junior midfielder Cameron Fisher and fifth-year forward Santiago Herrera. Fisher is having a breakout season and leads the team in points (12) and goals (5). Meanwhile, Herrera has played an integral role in the Tar Heels’ aggressive offensive game, leading the team with 28 shot attempts, which also ranks him at seventh in the conference.
However, UNC certainly doesn’t want to be too aggressive, as evidenced by its game against VCU. North Carolina took 50 shots to VCU’s four, only to draw 1-1 in a frustrating, physical battle. Maintaining a high but steady pressure on offense will be crucial if North Carolina wants to efficiently capitalize on scoring opportunities.
Less can be more at times for the Tar Heels’ offense, but its assertiveness will be put to the test against a Wake Forest team itching for revenge.