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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 11 UNC men's soccer draws with William & Mary, 0-0, in second straight scoreless contest


UNC sophomore defender Charlie Harper (18) passes the ball during the men’s soccer game against William & Mary on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023 at Dorrance Field.

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.

Now on the left wing, Huerman drove past multiple Tribe defenders, sending a pass to Caffaro, who let the ball roll through his legs to junior midfielder Andrew Czech. But Czech fired his shot over the ball.

Besides another Czech shot off target, UNC never threatened the William & Mary goal again. Huerman in particular struggled. Tuesday marked his second straight game without a single shot — he has clocked at least one shot in every other game this season.

Huerman said opponents have succeeded in marking him out the past couple of games, but he must find ways to get past them.

“Obviously, I'm not the most athletic player,” Huerman said. “So if you find good ways to block me, it’s going to put me more in trouble. However, I should still be able to get through it and just be better. If I'm not the fastest, I just gotta be smarter.”

A clear favorite before the game, the Tar Heels struggled for offensive consistency and failed to score for the second straight game. As UNC enters its last two ACC games, it will look to find its groove again. 

Both Somoano and Huerman said the team needs rest, but Somoano acknowledged UNC isn’t the only team dealing with the fatigue of the ACC gauntlet. As for Huerman, he said he’ll look for different ways to impact the game outside of scoring.

“It comes down to sometimes opening up space for others,” Huerman said. “Sometimes making sure that I try to use different spaces. So yeah, there's different strategies but it comes down to just me being better at the end of the day.”

Sunday, Oct. 22 marks North Carolina’s last home game of the regular season. The Tar Heels host Louisville at 5 p.m.


@DTHSports |

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