RALEIGH — Rob Lovejoy continues to make up for lost time at North Carolina.
The junior forward scored his fourth goal in only his fourth game since returning from offseason hip surgery and added an assist to lead the fourth-ranked Tar Heels to a 2-0 victory over N.C. State on Friday night at Dail Soccer Field.
Danny Garcia also scored a second-half goal, and Scott Goodwin logged his 12th shutout of the season for UNC (13-2-1, 5-1-1), which clinched second place in the ACC with the victory and Boston College’s 0-0 tie with Virginia.
Although the Wolfpack (9-8, 1-6) outshot the Tar Heels 15-10 – 12-5 in the second half – it proved too hard to beat the nation’s No. 1 team in goals-against average (0.26). Goodwin made two saves, but the big defensive play for UNC was midfielder Mikey Lopez heading a shot off the line by Sonny Mukungu off a corner kick in the 73rd minute.
Fabian Otte recorded four saves for N.C. State, which lost to UNC for the fifth straight time and hasn’t beaten the Tar Heels since 2006.
“I thought we moved the ball faster around the midfield in the second half,” Lovejoy said. “We got around the flanks more effectively.”
That kind of play led to UNC’s first goal at 63:07, when forward Andy Craven chased down a long ball in the corner and was fouled by State’s Moss Jackson-Atogi.
Craven was injured on the play and was replaced by Martin Murphy, whose curling free kick was headed – barely – by Lovejoy.
“I got a nick on it, but it was just enough to redirect it,” Lovejoy said. “The ball Martin played was first class.”
Lovejoy set up the second goal when he made a run down the left flank and got a cross to Garcia. The freshman midfielder finished from a tough angle for his second goal of the season.
“I was pleased with our performance,” UNC coach Carlos Somoano said. “N.C. State made it real tough for us to penetrate them. They kept us pretty bottled up in the first half.”
Somoano said the Tar Heels tried to open up play in the second half. “We didn’t want to go crazy, just get that final execution,” he said.
Somoano said the Tar Heels were mindful of Martinez, the second-leading scorer in the ACC: “He keeps me on the edge of my seat.”