In a break from ACC play, the No. 11 North Carolina men’s soccer team (6-2-5, 1-2-3 ACC) tied 0-0 with William & Mary (2-7-5, 1-3-2 CAA) Tuesday night at home.
For the entire first half, William & Mary used the leftmost member of its backline, usually defender Jack Crocco, to mark graduate forward Quenzi Huerman, UNC’s top goalscorer. Even when Huerman came to receive a pass in UNC’s own half, a Tribe defender followed.
The strategy risked leaving space in behind for the Tar Heels to exploit, but the Tribe crowded the midfield, pressuring UNC to speed up its possession play.
With Huerman marked out of the game, the Tar Heels couldn’t string passes together at the tempo required, mustering just three shots in the first half.
The Tribe’s pressure baited UNC into launching countless long passes to graduate forward Martin Vician, most of which Vician couldn’t latch onto.
UNC started the second half with senior midfielder Ahmad Al-Qaq on the left wing instead of graduate forward David Bercedo. Al-Qaq combined his control in tight spaces with creative passing to spark several Tar Heel attacks.
Head coach Carlos Somoano said Al-Qaq is the one player UNC has who can beat his man one-on-one which was needed in games like today.
“For us to have a guy that can beat somebody off the dribble is huge,” Somoano said. “I think that’s been a little bit of a missing piece this year.”
Al-Qaq’s bright play was not enough, however, and UNC’s offense reverted back to its first half struggles. UNC subbed Al-Qaq off and brought on junior midfielder Juan Caffaro. Then, the Tar Heels created their best chance of the game.