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UNC men's soccer beats Pitt to open ACC play

The Tar Heels started off their ACC schedule with a narrow 2-1 victory in Pittsburgh.

NCAA Soccer: Men's College Cup-North Carolina vs Stanford Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina's ACC campaign is officially underway, as the Tar Heels got their fourth win of the season by defeating the Pitt Panthers in a surprisingly tight affair.

UNC came in ranked #10 and came in with a 3-1 record, having fallen last week to UNC-Wilmington. The Tar Heels began the season as favorites to win the ACC and potentially return to the Final Four of the College Cup.

Pitt, on the other hand, was 2-2 and was coming off a woeful 2-13-3 season. They had not scored a goal against the Heels in five games and most expected an easy Carolina win to open conference play.

Carolina struck first, with the high-scoring sophomore Jelani Pieters tallying his fourth goal of the season in the 11th minute on an assist by senior Alan Winn. Pieters has been a fantastic attacking presence so far this season and his presence was felt early and often in the half.

Pitt broke its goalless streak against UNC to equalize in the 31st minute on an Edward Kizza goal, assisted by Pol Planellas.

Carolina opened with 2nd half with its third, that’s right, THIRD goalie in five games, Alec Samir, taking duties over from Drew Romig. Samir would have a couple key saves in the half.

The Heels came out aggressively in the 2nd half, firing shots on goal in the first ten minutes of the half. They retook the lead when a Cam Lindley shot in the 53rd minute found the net. Lindley, who was a 2nd Team All American and ACC Freshman of the Year last season, has continued his scintillating form, both as a goalscorer and a distributor.

The final thirty minutes saw Pitt gain in momentum as they tried furiously for the equalizer. Despite having five corners and 8 shots in the time, they couldn’t answer and Carolina held on for the 2-1 victory.

On the whole, it was a solid, if unspectacular win for the Heels against a Pitt Panther team that really shouldn’t have been able to hang with them. The end of the the game particular brought a few close shaves. The Panthers outshot the Heels on the night, 15-10, but Carolina did a better job getting their chances on frame, with 6 shots on goal to Pitt’s 4.

Carolina does home to play William and Mary in a non-conference matchup on Wednesday. ACC play resumes for the Heels when they play host to Duke next Saturday the 16th.