After scoring on a penalty kick, senior midfielder Ernest Bawa heard a cry from the sidelines: “Do a flip!”
As he reached the edge of the field, he answered the call — leaping into the air and completing an aerial cartwheel. For as long as he can remember, he's flipped after each of his goals.
But, for Bawa, this one felt "extra special."
The UNC men’s soccer team defeated Florida Gulf Coast, 3-0, Tuesday evening in Bawa’s first start since the season opener on August 24. He played a season-high 55 minutes and scored his second goal of the year. That goal and ensuing flip meant a lot, considering that Bawa went from starting the last 11 games of 2022 to playing most of this season off the bench.
With the implementation of transfers like graduate midfielder Quenzi Huerman and graduate forward Martin Vician, Bawa has navigated a different role this year.
“I know that I can help the team, and I know the team needs everybody,” Bawa said. “I feel like I’m beginning to embrace that role more now, and scoring a goal makes me feel like I’m contributing more now to the team.”
After last week's win against Elon, head coach Carlos Somoano praised Bawa’s impact on the offensive side of the ball. In the following game, against Syracuse, Bawa played significantly more minutes than he did in his previous appearances this season.