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UNC Soccer: Men beat Clemson, Women crush Louisville

Giovanni Montesdeoca is a star and the Women’s team sent shivers through the ACC.

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

A healthy tip for Tar Heel Nation: If the ongoing torture of Carolina Football is building up as much bile in your stomach as it is mine, I highly recommend taking Carolina Soccer. One dose of the Men’s soccer team will remind you of what a competent (if not wholly dominant) defense looks like, while 90 minutes of Women’s soccer will reintroduce you to a seamless and effective offense. Consider this a prescription of sorts. It has done wonders for my mental and emotional health this weekend.

The sizzling run of play that Anson Dorrance and Carlos Samoano’s squads have been on burned all the hotter this weekend, with both the Men’s and Women’s teams capturing decisive conference victories and cementing their places at the top of the ACC. Here is how Friday and Saturday’s games shook out for the Tar Heels:

Men Beat Clemson 2-0

Giovanni Montesdeoca, fresh off being named ACC Offensive Player of the Week, may be on course for a repeat: His brace of goals made the difference against Clemson on Friday night, putting his total for the season at five, to lead the team. His first came in the 21st minute off a terrific cross from Nils Bruenig and his second iced the game, courtesy of Mauricio Pineda and Milo Garvanian’s buildup. Montesdeoca’s nose for the goal has been key for a Tar Heel team that lost two senior strikers from last year’s squad, along with All-American playmaker Cam Lindley to the MLS.

Along with Montesdeoca’s goalscoring streak, the story of the Tar Heels has been their stout defense. #3 UNC has not conceded a goal in 383 consecutive minutes of play. In Friday’s contest they were particularly dominant, allowing only one shot the entire first half and giving up a total of four shots (one on goal) for the entire game. The back three of Alex Comsia, Mark Salas, and John Nelson has been a terrific development for Carlos Samoano, whose teams are usually noted for their offensive prowess.

The Tar Heels are now 7-1 and sit uncontested at the top of the ACC Coastal Division. Next up is a non-conference matchup with UNC-Wilmington in Cary on Tuesday night.

Women Crush #24 Louisville 5-1

What was billed as a matchup of two ACC unbeatens was a laugher by halftime. The #24 Louisville Cardinals, who came into this matchup 9-1 and 3-0 in conference play, drew first blood, scoring in the 6th minute on a breakaway by Emina Ekic. From that point on, it was all Carolina.

Sophomore Alessia Russo equalized in the 16th minute with a fantastic free kick and put the Tar Heels ahead three minutes later with a breakaway header fed to her by Dorian Bailey. Those three minutes of play were just what the doctor ordered for Russo, who has been hunting her shot furiously through the first ten games of the season but had only found the net once. If this is a case of the dam bursting, then everyone had better watch out.

Bailey, the creator of the second goal, got one of her own in the 29th minute off a cross from Taylor Otto to put the Heels up 3-1. From that point on, the Cardinals had better success kicking the Tar Heels than the soccer ball. Foul after foul mounted up and two of them led to penalties, both put away by Otto, first in the 34th minute and second in the 49th. The final tally was 5-1, in a result that was never in doubt after 20 minutes of play.

Anson Dorrance continued his goalkeeper-by-committee strategy, starting off with freshman Claudia Dickey in goal, and substituting in veteran Samantha Leshnak for the second half. Of note, for all his offensive and midfield substitutions, Dorrance played his two starting centerbacks, Brooke Bingham and Lotte Wubben-Moy, for the full 90. They, along with fellow back Julia Ashley, are Carolina’s leaders minutes.

Between their road win at Florida State and Saturday’s demolition of the Cardinals, the Tar Heels have made it clear, at least for now, that it’s them and everybody else in the ACC. They are now 9-2-1 and will look to continue their run of form on Thursday in South Bend when they take on Notre Dame.