No. 4 Heels can't rest

Michigan St. visits in NCAA soccer tournament

Staff WriterNovember 28, 2010 

  • What: Men's soccer, third round of NCAA Tournament

    When: 3 p.m., today

    Where: Fetzer Field

For the second week in a row, the No. 4-ranked North Carolina men's soccer team will face an unranked opponent at Fetzer Field in the NCAA tournament.

The Tar Heels needed five perfect penalty kicks to move past Georgetown after neither team scored in 110 minutes last Sunday.

"It was too close for comfort," North Carolina coach Elmar Bolowich said.

Michigan State enters this third-round game with an even more impressive resume than the Hoyas.

The Spartans knocked off No. 5 Butler in the second round, and they beat No. 3 Maryland in September.

"We're underestimating them," Bolowich said. "A lot of things have changed [since September]. Let's see what they have when they come here."

Just like Georgetown, Michigan State (13-7-1) has a prolific offense, ranked 12th nationally in total goals this season.

Bolowich, though, has the utmost confidence in his team's defense, which has allowed 0.6 goals per game (eighth in the nation).

"They have to find ways to get behind our defense," Bolowich said. "We're not giving up a lot of goals."

The Heels (16-3-2) have 13 shutouts this season and have given up more than one goal only twice.

Bolowich said he wants his team to limit the Spartans' chances by controlling the ball more than it did against the Hoyas after the first half.

"We're looking to be very energetic and aggressive, try to take the initiative," he said.

That should be an easier task this week with senior midfielder Michael Farfan back in the mix.

Farfan, who had just returned from injury heading into the ACC tournament, had to serve a one-game suspension after taking a red card in the ACC tournament final, where the Heels lost 1-0 to the Terrapins.

"He can set the tone," Bolowich said. "You always wish you have him in the game. Whenever he's not there, you feel it."

Bolowich said he knows very little about Michigan State and, as is his general approach to games, doesn't care to. What matters is that his squad imposes its style on opponents.

"We need to focus on us and play our game, just sharpen up everything," he said. "We're not reinventing anything now at this point. We've done a good job, and that's what got us here. We need to do the things that we have done so far, just a little bit better."

While the Heels had plenty of chances against Georgetown, Bolowich said they were individual efforts.

"We didn't work the ball as a group of players," he said. "That's what we need to do better. We have to attack as a team."

javier.serna@newsobserver.com or 919-836-4953

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