It wasn’t the worst weekend for Tar Heels soccer. Knocking off an undefeated arch-rival and snapping the longest home win streak in the ACC? Within 24 hours of each other? Yeah, not a bad weekend at all. The UNC soccer teams each notched their best win of the young season this weekend, as the men downed #23 Duke 2-1 and the women beat #16 Florida State 1-0 in Tallahassee. Both teams are now in pole position in the ACC and showed very promising form in their wins.
Men's Soccer beat Duke 2-1:
Both soccer teams now have wins over the Dookies and fall hasn’t even officially started yet. The Tar Heels stretched their winning streak to four with a hard fought win over the Blue Devils in a de facto home game (the playing field was in Greensboro at Bryan Park).
Alan Winn, recently named National Player of the Week, continued his red hot scoring streak by heading in the Tar Heels' first goal, and Mauricio Pineda tallied his first of the year in what would prove to be the winning score. Cam Lindley, whose playmaking has been absurdly good thus far this season, added two more assists to give him seven on the year. This ties him for most in the country.
The Heels struck first, with Winn heading in a Lindley corner in the 8th minute. Winn's goal, his fourth in as many games, was an absolute beauty of a header, giving Duke goalkeeper Will Pulisic (Christian's cousin) no chance to save. The Blue Devils pressed hard in the following minutes, looking to equalize, and finally found the net in the 32nd minute on a strike from Daniele Proch from about 15 yards out. The goal came on an assist from Kevon Black.
Carolina retook the lead just seven minutes later on an absolutely gorgeous set piece. Cam Lindley sent in a great corner that was headed on by Jelani Pieters. The headed ball sailed right through the Duke defense and onto the waiting foot of an onrushing Pineda, who tapped it in from point blank range. There's no bad way to get a game winning goal against That Team Up the Road, but this one was an absolute gem. The Heels had a few more chances late in the half to build on their lead, but they would settle for 2-1.
The second half largely belonged to Duke, as they threw everything they had at the Tar Heels, trying to even the score. The play of the game came in the 62nd minute, when a header from Brian White was saved by Alec Smir. A Proch cross over the UNC defense gave White a good look at goal and his ball looked to be goal-bound but Smir, slightly off-balance, managed to get enough footing to spring and make a truly world class save. Consider the Carolina goalie carousel to be officially stopped. The save was Smir's only one of the game, but it might very well prove to be his best play of the whole season.
The Blue Devils put on one last flurry in the final minute, firing three shots at the Carolina goal, but the first two were blocked. The third was a real heart-stopper. With the crowd's countdown literally into the single digits, a Duke cross was blocked high into the air and flicked on in the direction of Duke's Cameron Mosley. Mosley controlled it with his head and lashed a bicycle kick that just barely went wide. The missed shot was still in the air as time expired.
Carolina celebrated as the Duke players crumpled to the ground in disbelief. They were about one foot away from what would have been the greatest goal in the rivalry's history.
Men's Soccer takes on George Washington in Cary on Tuesday and heads to Charlottesville to face UVA on Friday.
Women's Soccer Knocks Off the Noles 1-0
36 straight games. 108 goals to 7. That's how the Florida State Seminoles had played at home over the last three years. In that time they had also won a National Championship and four ACC Tournament titles in a row. To snap that streak would take a total team effort. And I mean TOTAL team effort. Anson Dorrance had 17 (!!!) players take the field at different points in the match and Carolina's depth was a major factor in bringing down the Noles.
Dorian Bailey scored her 3rd goal of the season in the 58th minute on a set piece strike eerily similar to the 2nd goal that the men scored against Duke the previous day. Joanna Boyles sent in another of her beautiful corners to an unmarked Abby Elinsky in the box. Elinsky, much like Pieters, headed the cross on to Bailey, who redirected it into the net from close range, just barely sliding past FSU goalkeeper Cassie Miller.
The goal came after a defense-dominated first half. Carolina, which has vastly improved its defense in the last few weeks, hamstrung a previously explosive Seminole attack. In particular, the Heels frustrated sophomore scoring machine Deyna Castellanos, allowing her only one shot on goal all game. That one shot was saved brilliantly by Samantha Leshnak in the dying seconds of the half.
Leshnak would be called on again in the 2nd half, as Florida State tried to dial up the pressure in their search for the equalizer. She made several saves immediately following Bailey's goal and held the Florida State counterattack at bay.
It was then that Carolina's depth took over. Florida State has a thin bench and made just two substitutions for the entire game. Carolina rotated its players constantly, bringing in fresh legs at every possible turn (remember that in the College game there is no limit on substitutions). In addition, Carolina hadn't played in 10 days and the rest clearly helped.
Eventually, the Seminoles ran out of gas and Carolina's depth and defense broke them. The Noles didn't manage a single shot in the last 12 minutes of play, as a swarming Carolina defense didn't allow them to get in rhythm. Their last real chance was a Castellanos solo effort that barely flew over the bar in the 78th minute. After that? Nada.
Even discounting Florida State's impressive history at home, this was a great win, and a reminder of why Anson Dorrance is the Godfather of Women's Soccer. The Heels had an advantage, they milked it for all it's worth, and they won because of it. A fantastic way to bounce back from a tough loss at Penn State. And not a moment too soon: Carolina hosts #11 Clemson on Thursday in another big ACC showdown.