Home games for UNC soccer have been a bit of a headache the last couple of years, as Fetzer Field on the UNC campus was undergoing a drawn-out renovation that, predictably, made it impossible to play on. Both the men and the women toured the North Carolina Triangle for their home games, most of them in Cary, North Carolina’s WakeMed Park but also making stops in Greensboro, Bryan Park, and (gag) Durham’s Koskinen Stadium. As you can imagine, having to play home games half an hour to an hour and a half away, sometimes in rivals’ stadiums and almost always closer to rival turf than the team’s own, put a fair damper on home-field advantage for the men and women, who put together an excellent couple of seasons regardless of being unable to play in front of most of the students who make up a significant portion of their home audience.
The wait is over and the soccer fields have finished their renovations, and the Tar Heel men christened the new facility on Thursday with their first exhibition game. And they made it an opener to enjoy, beating Stetson 4-1. Freshman Cameron Fisher scored a brace after being subbed on in the second half, making him a new player to watch for the upcoming season for sure. But the scoring was opened by a couple of veterans as junior Lucas Del Rosario drew a penalty and senior Mauricio Pineda tapped in the rebound after the Stetson keeper blocked his attempt from the spot, and from there the floodgates were opened. UNC took a 3-0 lead before Stetson got one back, and Fisher’s second was just icing..
They’ll play their second home exhibition tonight, against tougher competition: N.C. State comes to town ahead of UNC’s Fall Fest event to open the semester, which makes for some sweet irony after UNC spent most of its home games about a 5-minute drive from the NCSU campus the last two years. Hopefully, they can keep up the good vibes from the newly minted stadium on UNC’s campus running through tonight for a sweet exhibition win over a rival and into the 2019 season. Go Heels!