Headed into this weekend, the North Carolina men's soccer team is stuck in the middle of the pack of the ACC standings with a 1-1-3 conference record.
On Saturday, UNC will have a chance to add another ranked win to its belt. The No. 14 Tar Heels are preparing for one of their toughest matchups of the season against No. 4 Wake Forest — the team's highest-ranked opponent thus far.
The Demon Deacons have been rolling, currently riding a six-game win streak and an impressive 7-0-1 record in their past eight matches.
Here are three keys for the Tar Heels if they hope to pull off a major conference upset in Winston-Salem:
Control the shot battle
A major factor to Wake Forest’s recent success has been its ability to get off shots. The Demon Deacons' 15.08 shots per game ranks third in the ACC — including a staggering 45 shots in their past two matches against Wofford and N.C. State. During its six-game win streak, Wake Forest has averaged nearly nine more shot attempts per game than its opponents.
North Carolina boasts a commanding offense as well, with the tandem of graduate forwards Quenzi Huerman and Martin Vician ranking second and fifth, respectively, in the ACC in total shots this season.
The Tar Heels fare well when they are aggressive offensively. This was seen in UNC's 1-1 draw with then-No. 10 Notre Dame, in which North Carolina outshot the Fighting Irish 10-1 in the first half. Seven of those shots were taken by Vician or Huerman, with one of those being Vician's goal in the 34th minute.
Forechecking to bring pressure high up the field will be pivotal in disrupting Wake Forest’s ability to generate offense, and creating turnovers in the offensive zone can give UNC the edge in scoring opportunities.