CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina mens soccer coach Carlos Somoano felt like his team had been stuck in the group of death in the NCAA tournament.
The Tar Heels, despite being the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament for the first time in school history and receiving a first-round bye, had to come from behind against No. 22 Coastal Carolina last week and play seven-time national champs Indiana on Sunday.
The Hoosiers played UNC to sudden-death overtime after a scoreless regulation, but All-America Billy Schuler saved the Tar Heels from elimination with his 15th goal of the season to give UNC the 1-0 win in the third round of the tournament.
The hard part for us is that some people perceive us as a No. 1 seed and want to come for us, Somoano said. We have to make sure that we dont perceive ourselves as having a target on our back and that were always the aggressor and were hunting the opponent and we put a target on their back.
With the win, North Carolina is now one win away from a fourth-straight College Cup appearance and first with Somoano. UNC will play St. Mary's (Calif.) on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Fetzer Field.
Six minutes into the first overtime period, senior captain Kirk Urso was able to get enough of a foot a ball defended by Indianas Chris Estridge that left it idle at the top of the box. Schuler swooped in, made a move to his left and finished on the far side.
I thought I could get to it and thats one of the things our coaches preach: Get to it, attack them, Urso said. He took a touch and I got enough on it and it popped up and Schuler did the rest.
The Hoosiers owned the first half against the No. 2 team in the country. Indiana out-shot the Tar Heels 9-7, but most of UNCs shots never threatened. Urso twice kicked screamers from 30-plus yards that sailed harmlessly over the goal.
UNC would put together combination passes that against lesser teams would usually result in a goal, but against Indiana the Tar Heels couldnt breach the Hoosier defense.
I think in the first half Indiana came out the aggressor and we were a little flat, Somoano said. We had a lot of numbers behind the ball even when we were attacking. I think the energy level was a bit low physically. I dont think we were fresh today and well have to look at that this week.
The game opened up in the second half for both teams and the referee allowed the teams to play. Only 17 fouls and one yellow card was dealt to the teams on Sunday compared to last weeks Coastal Carolina game when there were 41 fouls and seven yellow cards combined.
Indiana racked up 13 shots but did not put any on frame despite maintaining the run of play for more than a half. Insulated by Matt Hedges and the rest of the defensive line, Goodwin did not record a single save on Sunday.
It was a good defensive game for us, Hedges said. They pressed us high and put a lot of guys forward and our back four was solid all day and didnt give them too many opportunities.