After cruising their way to a 11-2-3 season with a 5-1-2 record in ACC conference play, the Tar Heels are the No. 1 seed in the ACC Men’s Soccer Tournament this year. Despite being the favorites to win, UNC still needs to overcome several talented teams to be crowned champions.
The 2016 season went as smoothly as you can expect with North Carolina beginning the year ranked as the No. 2 team in the nation. There were few disappointments over the 15 games of their season. They defeated ranked opponents like Clemson, Virginia, Boston College, UNCW, Virginia Tech on their way to clinching the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
The only truly ugly moment we witnessed was a shocking defeat at the hands of ETSU in extra time. It was a game North Carolina should have had. There was also a loss against No. 16 Virginia that knocked UNC down from No. 4 to No. 8. Three matches that ended in scoreless double overtime ties could have done much to propel the team’s season even further. Their inability to score against a No. 3 ranked Syracuse and a No. 12 ranked Notre Dame make things scary for the upcoming tournament.
Luckily, the Tar Heels have more than enough weapons in which to defeat any opponent they might come up against. The team has a strong offense, led by Nils Bruening’s seven goals, alongside Zach Wright, Tucker Hume, and Walker Hume. Cam Lindley and Wright each have six assists, tying them for the second most in the ACC. North Carolina is also helped by the fact that James Pyle might be the best goalkeeper in the conference. His nine shutouts tie him for first, and his 0.46 goals against average put him in second place. Teams will have a hard time scoring against Pyle these next few days.
The tournament itself starts on Wednesday, November 2nd with the Tar Heels skipping the first round.
- No. 9 Virginia Tech at No. 8 Boston College
- No. 12 Pitt at No. 5 Syracuse
- No. 11 NC State at No. 6 Virginia
- No. 10 Duke at No. 7 Notre Dame
On Sunday, November 6, they will host the winner of Virginia Tech-Boston College matchup at Chapel Hill. The game will start at 1 PM and will be available on ACC Network Extra.
- No. 8/No. 9 at No. 1 North Carolina
- No. 5/No. 12 at No. 4 Clemson
- No. 6/No. 11 at No. 3 Louisville
- No. 7/No. 10 at No. 2 Wake Forest
The semifinals will take place on Wednesday, November 9th at 7 PM, and the championship match will be held in Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday, November 13th. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and WatchESPN at 2 PM.
The last time the Tar Heels won the ACC Tournament was in 2011 when they defeated Boston College to win the title. In the following years, they reached the finals twice as the No. 2 seed, only to be defeated by No. 1 Maryland in 2012 and 2013. They were defeated in the quarterfinals as the No. 3 seed in 2014 and the No. 2 seed in 2015. UNC now has a good chance to regain their crown and win their fourth championship.