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UNC Men’s Soccer: #5 Carolina comes back twice against #3 Clemson

An absolutely insane second half of football saw the Tar Heels come back to life twice against the Tigers.

Jeffrey A. Camarati

Whoa! The second meeting between Clemson and UNC this season at Historic Riggs Field was absolutely bonkers. Well, at least in the second half.

To catch up, the Heels defeated Clemson at Dorrance Field on 9 October in rather dramatic fashion, scoring the game’s only goal off a set-piece scramble in the dying moments of the second half.

In a game that lacked much drama, it packed it all into the last five seconds of the game. The return match promised to be a better overall aesthetic experience.

The first half of last night’s match didn’t meet that expectation, though both sides will feel they should have had a goal. Clemson captain James Brighton had a ball in Carolina’s net called offside and UNC had a hand ball shout in Clemson’s box that was ignored.

In the second half, the contest swung heavily in Clemson’s favor when Englishman Kimarni Smith went on a rampage. While driving toward’s Carolina’s box, he was fouled just outside of the area and took the ensuing free kick. UNC’s wall jumped, and Smith shot low to the right corner, just out of goalkeeper Alec Smir’s reach. 1-0.

39 seconds later, after Clemson played the ball into Carolina’s box again, Kimarni Smith got his second goal after finding the ball on a scramble and burying it in the top right corner. The Tar Heels were on mighty thin ice and Clemson looked like they had more goals in them. 2-0.

Carolina began pressing aggressively on defense and put pressure on Clemson’s passing game. Sophomore Key White, playing his first game of the season, pressured Clemson defender Justin Malou, who seemed to get his feet crossed and kicked his own ankle while trying to clear the ball off the bench-side of the pitch. Malou went down writhing in pain, as soccer players are want to do, but White correctly played on and dribbled into Clemson’s box with a full head of steam before curling across the face of goal. 2-1, game on!

With 18 minutes left in the second half, Giovanni Montesdeoca crossed from the right wing into the box, and Lucas del Rosario expertly guided the ball past the keeper with a soft touch. 2-2.

Six minutes later, Clemson midfielder Callum Johnson poked a deep pass to forward Grayson Barber, who snuck past a napping Filippo Zattarin and rounded Smir who had come out beyond his line to slot home. Clemson was back up, 3-2.

With just three minutes left in the second half, UNC’s Milo Garvanian hit a long free kick into the box. 6’6” defender Matt Constant gently headed it forward, and Venezuelan forward Santiago Herrera took it off his body, and volleyed in the equalizer. 3-3.

Neither team looked too threatening in overtime, though Mohamed Seye was given a second yellow in the 99th minute, and Clemson played the rest of the match with ten men.

All in all, it was a good result for the 5th ranked Tar Heels to get a point away to #3 Clemson. There’s no rest for the weary as Clemson take on #2 Wake Forest on Friday and Carolina hosts NC State on Sunday, 1 November. It may come as a mild shock to you, but NC State’s soccer team is 0-5.