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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC men's soccer upsets No. 11 Duke, 2-1, in chippy rivalry matchup

UNC graduate midfielder/forward Quenzi Huerman (11) dribbles the ball during the men’s soccer game against Duke at Dorrance Field on Sept. 24, 2023. UNC won 2-1.

When asked about the officiating in Sunday's game against No. 11 Duke, a clearly disgruntled Carlos Somoano answered without really giving an answer.

“You’re not allowed to comment about these things in the ACC," the UNC men's soccer head coach said. "So no comment."

The Tar Heels earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory against their rival on Sunday — UNC's first home win against the Blue Devils since 2020. In 90 minutes of highly physical play, 36 fouls, 15 yellow cards and two red cards were assessed. Most notably, the chippiness resulted in the loss of North Carolina graduate midfielder Quenzi Huerman, whose absence was felt by the Tar Heels in the second half as they attempted to hold on to their narrow lead.

In the 32nd minute, Huerman scored his sixth goal of the year, a go-ahead shot to the top-right corner of the net to put the Tar Heels up 2-1.

Nearly midway through the second half, a hard tackle by Huerman on Duke midfielder Wayne Frederick notched Huerman's second yellow of the game — resulting in a red card.

This left the Tar Heels, who scored two goals in the first half after an early 1-0 deficit, down a man for the last 24 minutes.

"When we go down a guy like [Huerman], it's hard to just continue pressing them," junior midfielder Andrew Czech said. "At that point, it's we need to get every guy behind the ball, don't let them get any good chances and see if we can maybe get one on the counter."

Playing 11-on-10, the Tar Heels defended against a strong Blue Devil surge, in which Duke recorded seven shots in the last nine minutes of action. 

With two minutes left, the Blue Devils came within inches of a tying goal. Redshirt sophomore goalie Andrew Cordes, who was starting in his first game of the season, slapped away a shot on goal from Frederick, who collected the rebound and sent a second shot off the crossbar.

Czech, who scored UNC’s first goal of the contest in the 16th minute, said the Tar Heels used the intensity of the game to their advantage during those final moments.

“I’m just proud of the guys. Those last few minutes — [they] really just hunkered down, [got] the ball out,” Czech said. “You can’t really prepare for stuff like that, and everyone handled it well.”

The red card has another consequence for UNC outside the scope of Sunday's game — Huerman will be suspended for the upcoming bout against Pittsburgh. The midfielder, who leads the team in goals, will leave a gaping hole in UNC’s attacking unit in Friday’s contest.

“I was thinking about going to church tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day,” Somoano said when asked about how the team would compensate for Huerman's absence, later adding, "We got other players that we’re just going to lean on and put our trust in.”

Somoano said he’s going to have to figure out who’s left to play against Pitt after Sunday's slugfest. Nonetheless, the Tar Heels will leave Chapel Hill with a seven-game unbeaten streak to start the year and a ranked rivalry win under their belts.


@dthsports |

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