UNC heads to ACC soccer semifinals

CorrespondentNovember 9, 2011 

— As the No. 3 team in the country playing against a 7-10-2 squad, North Carolina could have acquiesced after building a 2-0 halftime lead against N.C. State.

But the Tar Heels had learned not to ease up on the Wolfpack after letting a 1-0 lead slip away two weeks ago before eventually winning in overtime. UNC wasn't going to make that same mistake Tuesday night in the quarterfinal match of the ACC men's soccer tournament.

The tournament's top-seeded Tar Heels waxed the Wolfpack 4-0 at home to advance to the semifinals of the tournament on Friday against Virginia at Cary's WakeMed Soccer Park.

"That's something that we try very hard to emphasize to the guys," UNC coach Carlos Somoano said. "The last time we played N.C. State we felt very comfortable at halftime and we came out and we were very lackadaisical. We grew from that experience and today we said, 'Let's remember that game and let's not do the same thing. Let's stay aggressive.' "

UNC (15-2-2) had to play without All-American Billy Schuler. The Tar Heels' leading scorer with 13 goals was forced to sit out with a leg injury suffered earlier in the week in practice. A team spokesman said Schuler will be ready to go on Friday.

The Tar Heels got on the board first in the 13th minute with the help of Jordan Gafa. The junior controlled a free kick from senior captain Kirk Urso and struck a shot that bounced off two State defenders and past goalkeeper Fabian Otte.

Otte struggled against the Tar Heels. Following the Gafa goal, Enzo Martinez connected on a 40-yard pass to Matt Hedges in the 33rd minute. As the ball neared, Otte came out of position tardy and the 6-foot-4 Hedges connected on a header to give UNC a 2-0 lead.

Martinez recorded his second assist of the night in the 49th minute on an assist to freshman Mikey Lopez for his third goal of the season. But not thirty seconds would elapse before the Tar Heels put the final point on the board.

North Carolina entered Tuesday's game tied for the most goals in the ACC with 41.

N.C. State broke its four-game losing streak on Monday after topping Virginia Tech 1-0 in the first round of the ACC tournament. The Wolfpack will need an at-large bid in order to make the NCAA tournament, but its hopes are dim with a 7-11-2 overall record.

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