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Huerman and Vician connection leads the Tar Heels to second-round NCAA tournament victory

20231119_Skvoretz_UNC-MSOC-Memphis-629.jpg
UNC graduate student midfielder/forward Quenzi Huerman (11) and graduate student forward Martin Vician (9), pictured during the second round of the NCAA men’s division one soccer tournament against Memphis on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, at Dorrance Field. UNC wins 2-0.

Coming into Sunday’s NCAA tournament second-round matchup against Memphis, graduate midfielder Quenzi Huerman had a simple message for graduate forward Martin Vicianhe wanted them to become the first duo at UNC to both have double digit goals since 2005.

Huerman was a man of his word, assisting on both of Vician's goals in a 2-0 victory over the Tigers. The combination of Huerman’s left foot and Vician’s head put the Harvard transfer one goal shy of double digits on the year, a feat that Huerman already accomplished earlier in the season. The duo has brought a spark to the UNC offense in their first season with the team, combining for 59 percent of the team’s goals.

The first score came in the eighth minute off a corner kick. UNC sophomore midfielder Sam Williams dropped the ball off short to Huerman who sent the ball into the box. Vician, boxing out his defender with his 6-foot-4 frame, flicked the ball off the back of his head into the bottom left corner of the net.

Huerman and Vician said the goal was exactly how they drew it up off the set piece.

“It was perfect,” Huerman said.

In the 49th minute, Huerman’s left foot found a Vician header once again to extend the lead to two. Dribbling up off the counter-attack, Huerman created space to his left and delivered the ball into the box. Despite Huerman saying it was one of the worst crosses he’s given him all year, Vician capitalized off a defensive miscommunication and calmly headed the ball into the back of the net.

The two-goal game marks Vician’s third brace of the season, and it is the second time that Huerman assisted on both goals. Vician said the chemistry between the two has developed naturally over the season.

“I’m really glad that it’s been working,” Vician said. “I feel really good on the field, not just with Quenzi, but with every other teammate.”

Huerman said playing with Vician frees him up offensively. While he is the team’s leading goal-scorer, he also described himself as a “playmaker.” His two assists on Sunday extended his team lead to six.

UNC head coach Carlos Somoano had a different way of describing Huerman. He said he was the “quarterback” or “point guard” of the team, reading defenses and conducting the offense with his touches.

For Huerman, having Vician as the nine allows him to be a better facilitator.

“He’s so big that he imposes so much on a defense, [which] gives me so much space,” Huerman said. “And then it's easy to find him because he's able to hold the ball in pretty much any situation.”

Somoano recruited both players out of the transfer portal in the offseason — Vician from Harvard and Huerman from Seton Hall. He said his main goal in the portal was to find “good players that we can actually get into the school.”

“We're still playing, and they're a significant part of that,” Somoano said. “It's certainly not the only reason. Obviously, everybody's contributing to it, but you can't win if you don't score, and they're taking that responsibility on and doing a marvelous job.” 

As the Tar Heels advance to the Sweet 16, Vician will need just one more goal to make him and Huerman the first double digit goal-scoring duo in 18 years for UNC. As Vician works for that milestone, Huerman knows one thing — he wants to be the one to deliver the assist.

“I got to get him to his 10th goal for sure.”

@brendan_lunga18

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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