The North Carolina men’s soccer team (8-5-1, 2-4) defeated No. 15 Loyola Marymount (9-3-1, 1-1) 2-0 on Tuesday night at Dorrance Field.
It didn’t take long for UNC to get on the board. Senior left back Milo Garvanian was awarded a penalty kick in the sixth minute after getting his feet swept out from under him by LMU goalkeeper Jacob Jackson. Jackson got his hand on the ball, but it wasn’t enough to stop the shot from going through into the bottom right corner.
In the 23rd minute, Garvanian scored again after being set up by fifth-year forward Santiago Herrera in front of goal. Jackson dove to the ground in an attempt to save the shot but inadvertently sent the ball arching behind him into the goal, giving UNC a 2-0 lead.
The Tar Heel defense played a stellar half, allowing only one shot attempt by way of a LMU free kick. Fifth-year goalkeeper Alec Smir spread out for the save, deflecting the hard strike from LMU senior Ronaldo Brown.
UNC had a few more opportunities to score, but the team couldn’t find the back of the net again before the end of the half. A shot from first-year Tega Ikoba in the 33rd minute just barely missed off the right post, and a good look from junior Cam Fisher on a corner was chipped high and wide right.
Who stood out?
Garvanian's goals in this match were his first since 2018. On top of his scores, the dynamic defender played a large part in holding the Lions to just four shots, tied for their season-low.
Smir notched two saves and didn’t allow any goals in another impressive performance. It was the 2020 ACC second-teamer’s eighth shutout of the season.
When was it decided?
The second period was scoreless as neither team could gain much ground on the other. Ultimately, it was the Tar Heel defense that must be credited with securing the victory.
Smir picked up his second and final save of the match in the 54th minute and the Tar Heel backs continued to lock down, allowing only three shots from LMU in the final 45 minutes. UNC was able to control possession of the ball and run out the clock in the final minutes of the game.
Why does it matter?
The match was a huge bounce-back win for the Tar Heels after losing a heartbreaker to Louisville on Friday. Securing a quality victory against a top-15 team could serve as the push the team needs to finish the season strong.
Each UNC win this season has been a shutout victory. If the Tar Heels’ defense continues to play like it did on Tuesday, it has a good shot at defeating conference opponents Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and Notre Dame at home in its final two games.
When do they play next?
UNC will face Virginia Tech away on Sunday in its penultimate match of the season. The game is slated to start at 7 p.m.
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