The UNC men’s soccer team (3-2, 0-1 ACC) defeated ETSU (3-2-1, 0-0-0), 1-0, breaking a two game losing streak in a Tuesday night matchup.
After losing against Pitt without a single goal, the Tar Heels started off with an aggressive offense. While ETSU held up well against the six shot attempts in the first half, UNC kept the ball close to its net. Junior midfielder Aman Al-Qaq in particular had a great first half, attempting three shots.
While UNC's constant attacks kept East Tennessee State from attempting to score often, the defense proved to be formidable for the Tar Heels. Despite taking the lead on scoring in previous games, fifth-year midfielder Milo Garvanian didn’t have many standout moments, although he did take the lead on one of UNC’s corner kicks close to the end of the half. The score remained 0-0 at halftime, but not for a lack of trying on UNC’s part.
Six minutes into the second half, however, UNC’s aggression finally paid off. First-year Sam Williams, who minutes before had missed a shot off a corner kick, scored almost directly in the middle of the net from the edge of the box, assisted by red-shirt Junior Key White. This was Williams’ first goal at UNC and White’s first assist.
Following the goal, UNC was dealt several disputed penalties, particularly a handball call on senior midfielder Cameron Fisher. Graduate midfielder Hilli Goldhar was also given a yellow card. ETSU tried to take advantage of these mistakes, with star player Kieran Richards making a shot directly after Fisher’s foul that went over the net.
Both teams found calls controversial, as ETSU’s Tarik Pannholzer challenged the lack of a foul call for Til Zinnhardt after he fell, and the team looked visibly upset when it was ruled not a foul.
Al-Qaq attempted one more goal before the end of the game with a bicycle kick in the penalty box that was ruled an offside, but elicited shouts from the audience.
Who stood out?
Williams made the game’s only goal early into the second half, securing UNC’s victory. Williams played for the entire game, and was a crucial part of UNC’s offensive strategy, attempting two shots.
While Al-Qaq did not score, he made the most attempts at goals despite only playing a little more than half the game, keeping ETSU’s defense occupied.
When was it decided?
Sam Williams’ goal was the turning point for the two teams, which were locked in a stalemate for the first half after a number of close calls on both sides. While their quick succession of fouls following the goal offered an opportunity for ETSU to retaliate, the Tar Heels' defense ultimately kept the score the same.
Why does it matter?
Three out of UNC’s next four games are against ACC conference teams, and this victory will add morale to a team that’s lost its last two games. Especially because the game coming up is against Duke, a rival, winning this game has added confidence as they move forward towards important conference games.
When do they play next?
UNC will play Duke in the team's second conference game, in Durham on Friday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.
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