It may not count towards the official standings, but the 4th-ranked UNC Men's Soccer team faced their first test of the season and passed it with flying colors. The Tar Heels got two goals from freshman forward Alex Rose and a third from sophomore Jelani Pieters for a 3-1 win over the Chants of Coastal Carolina.
The Tar Heels start the season hungry to avenge last season's heartbreaking ending. Their 2016 tournament run ended with a loss to Stanford in a penalty shootout that lasted ten nail-biting rounds. Head Coach Carlos Somoano returns a talented but young team for 2017. The Tar Heels only have four seniors on the roster and will need contributions from their underclassmen in order to better last season's impressive result.
They got just that from Rose who, making his Tar Heel debut in his hometown of Cary, NC, put two shots in the back of the net. Safe to say that this freshman might be making some noise in Chapel Hill before it's all said and done.
Carolina controlled possession most of the way, but it was Coastal Carolina who drew first blood, scoring the opener off a counterattack that put the Chants ahead, against the run of play. But a whopping 38 seconds later, senior Zach Wright sent a cross into the box that Rose slotted in for his first goal. The score was level at halftime.
The second half belonged to Jelani Pieters, who made it 2-1 off a Cam Lindley assist and then set up Rose's second ten minutes later. It's worth noting that both Rose's goals came on well-timed runs to link up with passes from other strikers who had moved ahead. Expect his role to be as the finishing touch to a great many wide runs this year.
The Tar Heels will head next to Columbia, SC to take on the Gamecocks in their final exhibition match on Thursday. But they have to be happy to kick off their season with a solid win over a ranked team.
This in particular because the Tar Heels are looking ahead to an absolute gauntlet of grueling ACC competition this season. The ACC features seven teams ranked in the AP Top 25, and five in the top 10 alone, including #2 Wake Forest, last year's runner-up. If the Heels make a return trip to the College Cup Final Four, they certainly will have earned it.