RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina men’s soccer team (6-3-3, 2-2-2 ACC) drew on the road, 2-2, against rival North Carolina State (4-5-3, 1-4-1) in a back-and-forth contest.
After a foul from junior midfielder Ernest Bawa just outside the North Carolina box, N.C. State’s Conor Kelly converted a freekick to make it 1-0 Wolfpack 12 minutes into the contest.
Following the concession, the Tar Heels went on the attack — spending much of the next five minutes in the attacking third before converting on a freekick of their own in the 19th minute. Bawa’s freekick attempt deflected off the hands of the N.C. State goalkeeper, before graduate defender Til Zinnhardt collected it and buried one into the back of the net to tie things up at 1-1.
UNC continued to control possession for much of the remainder of the first half, but the Wolfpack ultimately converted with five minutes to go to make it 2-1 entering the break.
North Carolina continued to control possession throughout the second half, but couldn't break through until the 64th minute when forward Akeim Clarke linked up with Bawa to bring the Tar Heels back even.
UNC continued to hold the ball in the attacking third and the Wolfpack earned chances on the counterattack, but neither side was ultimately able to break through for the remainder of the contest. As the buzzer sounded, the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
Who stood out?
Bawa finished with a goal and an assist, adding a goal involvement to each of North Carolina's goals. The junior did not have a single goal involvement to this point in the season, but his performance on Friday helped the Tar Heels break through despite a lack of real scoring opportunities.
Goalkeeper Andrew Cordes was also impressive, finishing with five saves and snuffing out N.C. State counterattacks in the second half with the game on the line.
When was it decided?
With 11 combined shots on goal, UNC dominating possession and N.C. State creating successful counterattack opportunities, the game wasn't decided until the buzzer sounded.
Neither the Wolfpack nor the Tar Heels have had much success offensively this season, but Friday provided plenty of firepower and a winning goal felt possible until the dying moments.
The Wolfpack put a shot on goal and into the hands of Cordes as the buzzer sounded.
Why does it matter?
With two games left in ACC play, the Tar Heels needed a results against a struggling Wolfpack group to stay competitive. Still, North Carolina has been the better team all season, and with more difficult matchups looming, a win was the expectation entering Friday night.
All three teams above North Carolina in the Coastal Division have winning records and have been top-25 mainstays all season. The Tar Heels must finish top-eight in the conference to earn a home ACC tournament match.
Every game will be crucial for the rest of the way if UNC hopes to gain solid ACC tournament positioning and open up a path to the NCAAs.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will head to Elon on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. match with the Phoenix.
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