This year shall see the guaranteed departures of four players from the UNC Soccer program. In MLS soccer players can leave their university for the draft at the end of any season, but seniors must graduate. Joining the MLS Superdraft is their choice after that, and if not taken in the Superdraft players can still be taken in the larger supplemental draft. Martin Murphy, Scoot Goodwin, Jordan Gafa, and Cameron Brown will all be graduating and hopefully joining the MLS. All are fine players, and their services to the program and to the university must be commended.
While all four names are impressive, the one which jumps off the page is Scott Goodwin. He has been UNC’s rock for three years. His play headlined the best defense in the land, and he owns the record for most clean sheets as a Tar Heel. Not only supremely talented, Goodwin was also team captain on a number of occasions and showed icy nerves in winning two PK shootouts in impressive fashion on the year. During the calamitous game against Clemson, he sprinted out of goal to prevent a melee from breaking out, gathering up his players and keeping a lid on the game. Goodwin was also an Academic All American in soccer. In a year which has seen UNC hounded over academics in the athletic programs, this is absolutely invaluable to the university’s reputation.
Also an occasional captain was Jordan Gafa. The right back from San Diego played a solid season, (and solid is practically a superlative in the back line) and at times could have been mistaken for a right midfielder for his attacking skill. He has been invited alongside Goodwin to the MLS Combine to showcase his skills ahead of the draft. He provided two goals and two assists on the season, and his goal against Duke, aside from being a ridiculously delicious Golazo, made the difference in that game and put UNC temporarily atop the ACC.
Martin Murphy was a goal off of being UNC’s top scorer, and in his final season at UNC he showed some lovely striking ability. He scored a flurry of goals at the start of the season, a contribution which jump started a Carolina attack which had lost Speas, Schuler, and Martinez and which was looking for a regular threat and an identity. He had a lovely brace against Virginia Tech including a free kick and a sublime little chip, but eventually lost his regular place in the team with the returns of Craven and Lovejoy. He remained a valuable member of the Carolina strike force.
Cameron Brown’s story has been one of the most unfortunate in Carolina Soccer. Coming into the team in 2007 as one of the top midfield prospects in the nation, Brown was a big part of the Tar Heel attack for 3 seasons before sitting two years with injury. His final season saw a modest return of 3 goals and three assists, but fans were left thinking of what might have been.
All of these players have the potential to continue playing at a high level, and I fully expect to see at least Gafa and Goodwin in the league in the next few years. With the SuperDraft and the Supplemental coming up we will likely see these guys get pro contracts, continuing the Tar Heel success in the MLS.
And we must thank all four seniors for their services. Scott Goodwin has in his career amassed more clean sheets for Carolina than has anyone else and was an academic and athletic All- American. Gafa has been a stalwart in the back line, a key to all of the last few years’ successes. Murphy has been a lovely finisher throughout his Tar Heel career and was invaluable at the start of the 2012 campaign. Brown was electric for three years for us before making a solid contribution to say his adieu.
But alas we must say goodbye to the seniors. We look forward to seeing them in the league, and we remain in debt for their services of four years. We’re truly losing a peck of peerless players.