The North Carolina men’s soccer team (5-3-2, 2-2-1 ACC) defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies (2-9-1, 0-5 ACC), 2-0, Friday night at Dorrance Field.
North Carolina quickly stole possession from the Hokies and worked the ball deep into its attacking end. Junior forward Ernest Bawa’s twisting cross found Akeim Clarke left-post side, but the junior forward’s point-blank header trickled wide of the mark.
Virginia Tech would respond to North Carolina’s push by securing the night’s first corner kick. In the 16th minute, the Hokies earned consecutive set pieces — the latter of which was saved by redshirt first-year goalie Andrew Cordes.
One minute later, Virginia Tech looked to break the standstill with its first shot on goal. Sophomore midfielder Declan Quill sent a blistering boot inside the goal box, but his shot found homage in the hands of Cordes.
Midway through the first half, the Tar Heels sent in their second substitution of the night. One of North Carolina’s fresh faces was redshirt junior forward Key White, who instantly left his mark on the bout.
In the 23rd minute, fifth-year midfielder Milo Garvanian found Key streaking into UNC’s attacking third. White controlled Garvanina’s low dribbling pass and lasered a shot between the legs of Hokie goalie Ben Martino, putting the Tar Heels on the board.
White’s electrifying goal proved to be the lone scoring play of the first half, and the Tar Heels entered the break leading 1-0.
Out of the intermission, North Carolina’s attack looked to build on its lead. Minutes into the second period, Clarke shifted a Hokie defender and found a crease within Virginia Tech’s defense, but the junior forward’s shot was saved by Martino.
Despite being denied, UNC’s offense remained persistent. In the 67th minute, Garvanain launched a line-drive shot that ricocheted off the glove of Martino and twirled inside the net for the Tar Heels' second goal of the match.
The fifth-year midfielder’s fourth goal of the season sealed the game for North Carolina as UNC blanked the Hokies, 2-0.
Who stood out?
White’s speed was on full display against the Hokies. Coming into Friday night’s bout, the redshirt junior had only found the back of the net once — against Air Force in the Tar Heels’ season-opener. But White notched the night’s first goal after his fast-twitch movements helped him weave past a Virginia Tech defender.
Throughout the year, the Tar Heel's defense, and namely its backline, has been the driving force for North Carolina. Against the Hokies, defender Matt Edwards shined. The sophomore left-back denied multiple Virginia Tech cross attempts and contributed on the offensive end, blasting a shot on goal in the second half.
When was it decided?
Both teams exchanged scoring chances in the early moments of the first half, but neither squad capitalized. A timely substitution by head coach Carlos Somonao paid dividends immediately, as White’s strike gave the Tar Heels a one-goal advantage.
UNC would continue to find holes in the Hokie defense, and Garvanian’s goal from outside the box helped North Carolina secure the win.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels’ offensive struggles have been on full display this season. Entering its contest against the Hokies, UNC had failed to score in four of its last six contests.
But with White breaking the tie midway through the first half, the Tar Heels secured its scored conference win of the season — and more importantly — may have found a go-to goal scorer. Both Garvanian and White notched goals and currently sit as North Carolina’s first and second-leading goal scorers for the year.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels return to Dorrance Field on Tuesday to battle the VCU Rams. The midweek tilt is set to start at 7 p.m.
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