UNC men’s soccer (7-4-5, 2-2-4 ACC) tied No. 18 Virginia (9-4-3, 5-1-2 ACC), 2-2 ,Friday night at Dorrance Field, completing its regular season.
The Tar Heels possessed the ball early but were unable to penetrate the offensive zone. Any push by either team produced little success. Sloppy play ensued for both teams as they committed back-to-back fouls near midfield. One of these fouls led to the first scoring opportunity for the Tar Heels. A pass by Tim Schels left Akeim Clarke alone with one defender, leading to a goal and an early lead for the Tar Heels.
As Virginia struggled on offense, UNC did not let up. Another shot by Schels missed wide left, and a foul on Virginia’s Nils Henry Orywol gave Clarke a free kick that Brown saved over the crossbar. Another free kick for Milo Garvanian five minutes later produced a similar result. Through 45 minutes, UNC dominated the action. They led the game 1-0 and outshot Virginia 7-0.
UNC maintained its momentum with a goal by Cameron Fisher thirty seconds into the second half. Schels tallied his second assist of the game on the goal. The 2-0 deficit seemed to spark something in the Cavaliers as they recorded their first shot 2 minutes later, but Marco Saborio-Perez was there for his first save of the night.
Virginia’s offense finally broke through in the 55th minute. Michael Tsicoulias was left one-on-one with Saborio-Perez and got the ball past him on just their second shot of the game. A yellow card on Riley Thomas in the penalty area handed the Cavaliers a penalty kick just three minutes later. Daniel Mangarov buried the shot and tied the game at 2.
After Virginia’s equalizing goal, both teams’ offenses created very little pressure. The next real offensive threat did not come until five minutes left in the game. A free kick by Clarke put the ball in front of the net but after a long scrum, the Virginia defense was able to clear the ball away. One final opportunity in the last minute was erased by Brown, and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Who stood out?
Schels and Clarke were the stars for the Tar Heels on the offensive side of the ball. Schels contributed to both goals with his passing ability and Clarke’s early goal provided a much-needed spark against a tough opponent.
Other than the 3-minute lull to start the second half, UNC’s defense also shined throughout the game. They kept Saborio-Perez clean and limited Virginia to just 4 shots. With that being said, the defense will need to play a full 90 minutes if they want to advance far in the ACC Tournament.
When was it decided?
The game-tying goal by Virginia seemed to cement the game as a draw. Despite it coming with over 30 minutes left in the game, very few offensive threats emerged after it. Virginia appeared to be tired from its comeback effort, and the Tar Heels were unable to overcome the disappointment of losing the lead.
Why does it matter?
While the draw might be disappointing for the Tar Heels, the result is a positive one as they try to build on this momentum for the conference tournament. The team will enter it with a 3-game unbeaten streak and a great showing against a good Cavaliers squad. The Tar Heels will need a quality showing in the ACC Championship if they want any hope of making the NCAA Tournament.
When do they play next?
UNC will play Boston College to begin its ACC Championship campaign on Nov. 2 as the Tar Heels try to break into the 48-team NCAA Tournament field.
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