One was expected and one was bit a surprise, but both the men’s and women’s North Carolina Tar Heels soccer teams made a run to the College Cup in each of their respective NCAA Tournaments. On Thursday and then Friday night, each had a chance to book a place in the national championship game, but unfortunately each lost in extremely frustrating circumstances.
The women’s team’s defense has been extremely strong, having not allowed a goal since the resumption of the season back in March. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case in the national semifinal as UNC lost 3-1 to Santa Clara.
After the teams traded chances early on, the Broncos broke through with a goal in the 20th minute after a misplay allowed Santa Clara’s Izzy D’Aquila to pounce and slot one home. UNC were then held in check for the rest of the half, as they got off just two shots before the break.
Just five minutes after the half, Carolina star and finalist for the Hermann Trophy (award for the best player in the country) Brianna Pinto evened things up. Sam Meza hit a pefectly-weighted pass to Pinto, who coolly controlled and finished to tie the game at one.
Unfortunately, the lead lasted less than a minute. An errant pass led to SCU getting control of the ball in UNC’s box. After an initial shot was saved, the Broncos’ Kelsey Turnbow put home the rebound to reinstate Santa Clara’s lead.
Nine minutes after that, another loose ball in the box went right to SCU’s Skylar Smith, who had no one near her. She put home a second effort, giving her tam a two-goal cushion.
In the remainder of the game, UNC only mustered just one more shot, and even that came in the final five minutes. It just seemed like the Heels were a step too slow and came up second best in every moment that could’ve led to a chance. It just wasn’t to be.
With that, their season finishes with an 18-2 record. Not that it’ll be of much solace, but those two losses came to the two teams that will play for the national championship: Santa Clara and Florida State.
After all that frustration, the men’s team managed to lose in an even more annoying and frustrating way the next day. In their chance to book a ticket to the national championship game, the Heels fell 1-0 to Marshall.
In the first half, UNC seemingly got the better of things as Marshall did not get a shot off in the opening 45 minutes. However, they failed to take advantage, and that came back to haunt the Heels.
On their first shot of the game, 15 minutes into the second half, Marshall took the lead when Jamil Roberts put away a ball in the box after a solid build up from the Thundering Herd. That ended up being their first and only shot all game, but Carolina still couldn’t take advantage.
Following the goal, the Heels got off five more shots, but couldn’t convert any of them. The final tally ended up being 11-1 and 5-1 on goal. Problem was, Marshall made that one count.
It had been a nice NCAA Tournament run for the men, as they upset the #4 and #5 overall seeds along the way, but unfortunately, this is where it ends. They finish what has been a very weird season with a 9-5-4 overall record.