The North Carolina men’s soccer team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 4-2 penalty shootout win over Loyola Maryland.
In this win-or-go-home game, the UNC men’s soccer team displayed its assertiveness in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night at Dorrance Field. The first half was characterized by numerous shots on goal, all of which were unsuccessful.
The most exciting sequence occurred 21 minutes into the game where there were three shots on goal in less than two minutes, but otherwise the first half was a slow one, ending scoreless.
Defense was strong on both ends of the field with Loyola Maryland goalkeeper Chase Vosvick and UNC graduate goalkeeper Alec Smir each having one save each in the beginning of the second half. Smir’s occurred early into the second half, where he forcefully dived left and deflected the Greyhounds’ shot attempt.
With 19 minutes left in the second half, UNC graduate defender Filippo Zattarin made a pivotal stop inside the box off a Loyola Maryland corner kick, sending the crowd roaring in celebration of the defender’s aggressiveness.
Stagnancy was a clear trend in tonight’s game with the team having seven failed shots by the end of second half with the Greyhounds having only four.
Another trend presented itself early in the game—yellow cards. There were a total of six bookings in regulation, four for the Greyhounds and two for the Tar Heels. The game was also high in fouls with Loyola Maryland ending the game with 21 fouls compared to UNC’s nine.
UNC did a good job maintaining possession for the majority of the night, but was unable to score in regulation, forcing both teams to head to overtime.
After a scoreless first overtime period, the game headed into double overtime, which was also scoreless. Left in the hands of penalty kicks, the tension could be felt across Dorrance Field.
The Greyhounds missed their first kick which led to fifth-year forward Santiago Herrera making a calculated shot to bring the score to 1-0. Smir went on to save the second attempt and fifth-year forward Alex Rose secured the second kick. After that, senior defender Milo Garvanian scored the third goal and Zattarin made the last to secure the victory.
Who Stood Out?
Smir proved why he was deserving of his All-ACC First Team honor tonight, accomplishing three saves and holding his defense accountable. The graduate goalkeeper continued his excellence into the penalty kick stage, saving one attempt and missing only two.
In the penalty shootout, North Carolina dominated with Herrera, Rose, Milo, Garvanian and Zattarin making their shots to advance the team to the next round.
When was it decided?
The game was settled when it came down to a shootout in post-regulation play. Herrera spearheaded the Tar Heels’ scoring by being the first player to find the back of the net, which put pressure on the Greyhounds they could not overcome.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels are now progressing into the second round of the NCAA Championships and will play No. 16 New Hampshire this weekend.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will face the Wildcats at the University of New Hampshire on Nov. 21st at 2 p.m. as they move into the second round of the NCAA Tournament
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