In its final game of the regular season, the No. 10 North Carolina men’s soccer team (7-3-5, 2-3-3 ACC) lost, 1-0, to No. 14 Virginia (10-3-3, 5-2-1 ACC) Friday night in Charlottesville.
UNC went into Virginia’s Klöckner Stadium without graduate midfielder Quenzi Huerman, the team’s top goalscorer. In his place on the right flank, senior forward Ernest Bawa started.
Virginia opted not to test the North Carolina high press in the first half, searching for long balls to their wingbacks. Those passes failed to test UNC’s backline, and the Cavaliers ended the half with just one shot.
The Tar Heels controlled the flow of the game, winning the ball back quickly off errant Virginia passes and firing off six shots in the first half.
UNC’s best chance of the game came from junior defender Matt Edwards zipping a cross from a tight angle into graduate forward David Bercedo. But Bercedo, falling backwards as the pass came to him, could not get clean contact to fire any better than a shot straight at UVA goalkeeper Joey Batrouni.
Aside from that shot, none of UNC’s other six chances were significant. The Tar Heels struggled to string enough passes together to slip through UVA’s defense in the final third, and any passes they could manage into the box found no one.
UNC’s offensive woes continued, struggling now to even get the ball into the box. Without Huerman, who has scored eight goals this season, the rest of the Tar Heels could not find the chemistry necessary to break through a stubborn UVA defense.
Late in the game, UVA finally capitalized on UNC’s impotence. Winning its first corner of the game in the 84th minute, chaos in the box knocked the ball onto midfielder Mouhameth Thiam, who fired his shot into the roof of the Tar Heels’ net.
Several Tar Heels complained to the referee that UVA had fouled graduate forward Martin Vician right before Thiam’s shot, but their appeals were rejected. UNC could not find a shot in the last four minutes, succumbing to defeat in the regular season finale.