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North Carolina men's soccer awaits major test against No. 10 Notre Dame on Friday

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Then-sophomore forward Juan Caffaro (10) dribbles the ball at the UNC men's soccer game versus Virginia Tech game on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 in Chapel Hill.

After a 1-1 draw against Virginia Tech last week, the North Carolina men's soccer team will have a chance to earn its first conference victory on Friday when it hosts No. 10 Notre Dame at Dorrance Field.

Although the Fighting Irish are off to an impressive 4-1-1 start to their season, the Tar Heels have a history of success against Notre Dame, evidenced by their current three-game win streak against the Fighting Irish.

These are three keys North Carolina must focus on in order to defeat Notre Dame and reenter the win column:

Remain consistent on offense

North Carolina has been a dominant team on offense this season. The Tar Heels average 17.75 shots per game — the second-highest average in the ACC — and have netted eight goals. 

UNC graduate forwards Quenzi Huerman and Martin Vician have applied significant pressure on their opponents over the past few weeks. Vician’s aggression in attacking the goal has resulted in a team-leading 14 shots on the season. His attack style, when combined with Huerman’s strategic approach, is integral in supporting the team’s recipe for success. The two have a combined five goals on the season, with four of those credited to Huerman.

When Huerman and Vician are working cohesively, it creates chaos. See North Carolina's 4-1 win over Virginia Commonwealth on Sept. 4, in which the two combined for three goals, as evidence.

Contain Matthew Roou

Notre Dame forward Matthew Roou has proved himself to be a valuable asset to the Fighting Irish. The Wisconsin native has scored five of Notre Dame’s 11 goals, two of which were game-winners. The junior is tied for second among ACC players for goals scored.

Roou’s understanding of how to use his speed, technicality and tactical awareness to his advantage has helped propel Notre Dame to its top 10 national ranking.

The Tar Heels must stabilize and progressively improve their defense to stop this offensive powerhouse. As Roou tends to bank on creativity amidst his pursuit of the net, North Carolina defenders must recognize and combat this playing style. 

Maintain the defense

The UNC defense is tied for fourth in the conference with one goal allowed per game, while Notre Dame's offense ranks seventh in goals scored per game, at 1.83. 

A large portion of Notre Dame's offensive productivity is thanks to Roou, who has taken 15 shots, and Eno Nto, who's taken 19 shots, this season. North Carolina veteran defenders such as senior Riley Thomas, graduate Til Zinnhardt and junior Matt Edwards will likely be tasked with slowing this Fighting Irish duo in the attacking third. 

Those three, alongside sophomore defender Charlie Harper and midfielderSam Williams played the full 90 minutes in UNC's recent game against Virginia Tech. Versus an arguably more challenging Notre Dame opponent, this group will likely be asked to step up again and log a full-match performance if the Tar Heels want to stand a fighting chance against the Fighting Irish.

@COREYMDAVIS04

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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