Sometimes in sports, the ball literally doesn’t bounce your way.
That was the case numerous times for the North Carolina men’s soccer team in its NCAA Tournament second round loss to New Hampshire on Sunday.
Such a trend could've been credited to a number of factors, but none loomed larger than the physical “home field advantage” possessed by the Wildcats.
Wildcat Stadium is the football stadium for the University of New Hampshire, but also hosts the school’s soccer games. On the cold and hard artificial turf, the Tar Heels struggled with ball placement and touches.
“A big challenge for us was coming up and playing on an awkward turf,” head coach Carlos Somoano said. “We were (also) trying to find the out of bounds lines.”
Such struggles were evident early, as the Wildcats seemed more comfortable and assertive during the early goings of the game. The early pressure paid off for New Hampshire, when defender Bridger Hansen got the Wildcats on the board with a bicycle kick goal.
However, the Tar Heels responded when the ball finally bounced their way. Junior forward Jonathan Jimenez sent a low, dribbling cross that squeaked by the Wildcat defense into the open foot of sophomore midfielder Tim Schels who found the back of the net to equalize the match.
The momentum swing opened up the door for more Tar Heel opportunities.
Junior midfielder Victor Olofsson had a point-blank chance, yet an awkward bounce caused the shot to sky over the crossbar.