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UNC men's soccer team's season ends with 1-0 loss to Oregon State in NCAA quarterfinals

20231202_Skvoretz_MSOCC-Oregon-State-109.jpg
UNC graduate student midfielder/forward Quenzi Huerman (11) chases after the ball during the quarterfinals of the NCAA men’s division one soccer tournament against Oregon State on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, at Dorrance Field.

The No. 3 seed North Carolina men’s soccer team (11-3-7, 2-3-3 ACC) fell to Oregon State (10-5-5, 4-1-5 PAC-12) 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, Saturday at Dorrance Field. 

In their last game, the Tar Heels pulled off the comeback victory against Hofstra in the third round. Winning the game in a penalty shootout, UNC converted all five of its kicks and saved one to advance. 

In Oregon State’s third-round matchup, the Beavers netted a tournament-high seven goals to defeat SMU on the road. 

On Saturday, an opening 20 minutes of play saw little stand-out moments. Oregon State controlled the majority of possession as the Tar Heels looked comfortable sitting back in defense. 

“If you let teams be comfortable with the tempo of the game then they’re going to look a lot different, better than we want them to look,” head coach Carlos Somoano. 

Before long, the Beaver’s continuous build-up culminated in the game’s opening goal. After shifting the ball around the top of the box, Oregon State focused its attack down the left side of UNC’s back line. 

In the 36th minute, Oregon State midfielder Vincente Castro dribbled his way into a dangerous area near the bottom corner of the box. Fighting off a Tar Heel defender attached to his hip, Castro clipped a low-skipping ball into the penalty area.

The cross found wide-open Oregon State midfielder Dante Wiliams camped out in the middle of UNC’s defense. In one touch, Williams steered the ball into the upper corner of the goal – giving Oregon State the 1-0 advantage ahead of the break.

“Speed of play,” Somoano said in response to what plagued UNC in the first half. “Oregon State had the game going at a good tempo and we just didn’t know how to adjust.”

Following the intermission, a refocused Tar Heel offensive began to create their first opportunities of the evening. After eight minutes out of the break, graduate forward Martin Vician narrowly missed an equalizing header that deflected off the left post of the goal frame.

Fighting to get back on level pegging, the Tar Heels won the possession battle in the second half, leading to five corners and six shot attempts. However, none of UNC’s chances were threatening enough to challenge Oregon State’s keeper into action.

Things went from bad to worse for a desperate Tar Heel offense when the team’s leading scorer, Quenzi Huerman, was sent off with a red card. After an altercation away from the play, it was determined that Huerman’s elbow to an Oregon State player was enough for an ejection.

Without its assist leader for the final five minutes of play, UNC was unable to find its equalizing goal in the second half. Losing 1-0 to Oregon State, the Tar Heels’ season ended in Chapel Hill – just one win away from the College Cup.  

“This team character-wise, spirit-wise, will leave me with very fond memories,” Somoano said. “Our growth in the soccer area was exceptional and in the second half we were playing some of the best soccer we have played all year, minus the end product.”

@cadeshoemaker23

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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