NCAA Soccer: Indiana 1, North Carolina 0

Tar Heel soccer's unbeaten streak at home ends with loss to Indiana

CorrespondentDecember 1, 2012 

— North Carolina’s three-year home unbeaten streak in soccer ended Friday night, and the stakes couldn’t have been higher.

Indiana got a 60th-minute goal from Eriq Zavaleta, and the 16th-seeded Hoosiers weathered a furious late-game rally by the ninth-seeded Tar Heels to post a 1-0 victory in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship.

The loss to Indiana, before a raucous crowd of 4,352, ended a 40-game unbeaten streak at home for the Tar Heels, who hadn’t lost at Fetzer Field since a 3-0 defeat by Akron on Sept. 3, 2010. Akron won the NCAA championship that year.

The Hoosiers (14-5-3) will advance to the College Cup, soccer’s final four, at Hoover, Ala., where they will play in Friday’s semifinals against either Creighton or Connecticut.

The Tar Heels (16-4-3), who won the 2011 championship, were denied their fifth straight College Cup trip. This was the third meeting in four years for the Tar Heels and Hoosiers in the NCAA tournament. Indiana’s victory snapped a three-game losing streak in the series, all in NCAA tournament play in 2001, 2009 and 2011.

“It feels great to finally get over that hump,” said Indiana senior goalkeeper Luis Soffner, who played in all of those games. “Being here in ’09 and last year, we know this is not an easy place to play.”

“To go on the road and beat (No. 1 seed) Notre Dame and UNC, they certainly deserve it,” Tar Heels coach Carlos Somoano said. “We played a pretty good game. We did most of the things we wanted to do. But in the end the plays that matter are in the box.

“We know it hasn’t been easy for us to score goals. It caught us tonight, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.”

The Tar Heels actually outshot the Hoosiers 13-6, 4-0 in the first half. It took Indiana 55 minutes before it even registered a shot, and the Hoosiers didn’t have any in the final 27 minutes. But Zavaleta, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound sophomore, made one count for his 18th goal of the season.

UNC lost possession at the top of the penalty area, and Patrick Doody won the ball for the Hoosiers and got in a cross from the left side. Zavaleta’s header was initially saved by a sprawling Tar Heels’ goalkeeper Scott Goodwin, but the rebound went right back to Zavaleta, who headed it into an open net at 59:17.

“They’ve given up six goals, now seven goals, all year,” Zavaleta said. “We knew maybe one goal wins this game.”

The goal ended a lengthy dry spell for the Hoosiers. They hadn’t scored against UNC since the second half of their 2000 meeting, a span of five games and 366 minutes.

“It looked to me like the cross was going over Jonathan Campbell and their guy (Zavaleta),” Goodwin said. “I misread it – it was a bad decision on my part. I was backtracking, got my hand on the first (header), but it went right back to him.”

The Tar Heels stepped up the pressure late, when they peppered the goal area with eight of their shots in the final 12 minutes.

Somoano even added 6-1 Josh Rice to the front-line mix as a target player, trying to create a scoring opportunity.

However, Soffner had to make only one soft second-half save en route to his 10th shutout of the season. He finished with three saves, as did Goodwin.

“In the last 15 minutes we were going a little more direct,” Somoano said. “We went with a bigger guy who can do that. … We literally put everybody who scored a goal this season on the field at the end.”

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