Tonight the Tar Heels Men’s Soccer Team played Duke in Durham. The game was broadcast on YouTube for free, and was delayed an hour due to rough weather. The Heels won by a score of 2:1. The game was an absolute thriller, and will undoubtedly be a classic for years to come as it was marked as much by intrigue as it was by exciting play.
The match began slowly, and continued that way for the whole first half. The Blue Devils pressed early on and while the Tar Heels were able to patiently pass around them, few chances were made. Danny Garcia had the first good opportunity of the game when he received a beautiful chipped ball off of a brilliant passing move from the midfield, cut inside, and shot a curling ball to the far post which hit the post but stayed out. The shot saw the Tar Heel supporters get into the game, and they were throughout the game the louder and more enthusiastic of the groups of fans, despite the game being a Duke home game.
The addition of Duke’s Jonathan Aguirre to the game brought about a change. Within a minute, he had connected with a pass Ii the Carolina box and put it past Scott Goodwin, but his goal was called back for a foul before the shot. After this point, the play became more even as the Devils began to push back against the Heels, though neither team made many notable chances after the Aguirre’s rescinded goal.
The second half began the excitement. Duke came out and held possession for almost ten minutes, though the first chance of the second half actually came when Carolina won a lucky corner off of James Belshaw. The resulting corner was passed to the edge of the box and was nearly put in at long range. The scoring was opened by Duke in the 60th minute when a poorly cleared cross fell to Riley Wolfe, who lashed into the top corner from the edge of the box.
After the goal began the tumult. Almost immediately after going 1:0 down, the Tar Heels played a long ball to Jonathan Campbell. He headed the ball into the goal, but keeper Belshaw caught it just past the line and pushed it back out of the goal. The goal was not called by the officials. After this, the Blue Devils began to implode. Whilst the Tar Heels pressed furiously, the Blue Devils saw two men sent off for accumulation of yellow cards. Within a ten minute span, Duke went from defending against the Tar Heels’ talented attack with eleven men to defending with only nine. Red cards for Chase Keesling and Ryan Thompson late in the game set up for an exhilarating finish.
The Tar Heels held the Blue Devils deep in their own half for the last 25 minutes, but did not equalize until the 87th minute, when passing around the box led to a long shot from Cam Brown. The powerful drive slipped through the hands of James Belshaw and bounced over the line. The late goal led to sudden death overtime, which was mercifully short for both teams. The Tar Heels only had to play for three minutes before Jordan Gafa cut inside from the right wing and blasted a shot into the top left corner. His goal ended the game at 2:1 and put the Tar Heels on top of the ACC.
The Tar Heels play next at home against Georgia Southern. The game will be on Tuesday at 7 pm.