Friday night at seven, the Tar Heels Men’s Soccer team will take on Duke. The game will be in Durham, and will be the only match-up between the teams this year. The game comes at an important time for both teams due to their standings in the league as the teams are adjacent in the league table, meaning that if Duke wins they’ll bypass the Heels in the standings, whilst if the Heels win they’ll be four points ahead. The direct competition should add spice to an already intense match-up between rivals.
Duke are ranked third in the ACC. They are a capable team, but this year they have not shown their quality. Their current results put them at a losing record, but they remain a mid-table ACC club for their good results in the league. The opportunity to jump ahead of the Heels will likely give the Blue Devils extra motivation, and with their fans behind them they may be a force to be reckoned with.
The Tar Heels are playing well, having lost only one game this year and having won two games on the bounce.
While the atmosphere in Durham will likely be intimidating, even for the veterans, the Tar Heels can draw inspiration from the last game. Winning a game in double overtime can instill a team with confidence and resolve, despite the exhaustive effort of the extra minutes. They are ranked in the top ten in both the NSCAA and NCAA polls and are an immensely capable team. Duke, on the other hand are unranked, despite being third in the ACC. The Tar Heels will jump to first place in the ACC with a win.
The game features two great goalkeepers, Scott Goodwin and James Belshaw. Goodwin, as we already know, is the all-time leader at UNC for shutouts. Belshaw is the current ACC player of the week, and his performances have been vital for Duke this season, with several of their good results coming by his gloved hands. The Englander even single handedly outscored Clemson when he not only kept a clean sheet against them but also coolly converted a penalty kick. We can expect both sides to have difficulty getting past the others keeper, but the incentive to win will likely make for enough pressure for some scoring.
The game will be broadcast live on YouTube via the ACCDN. It is free to watch, so I encourage anyone who can to see this exciting match. The game promises to be a real thriller and a feisty encounter, for both teams are rivals and each can make big progress in the league with a win. If you cannot watch, or would simply like a little summary and analysis, you can check back here at KeepingItHeel for a full recap after the game.