Tucker Hume made a rare start for North Carolina, and the 6-foot-5 forward paid big dividends again.
Hume scored UNC’s fastest goal of the season and assisted on the eventual winner, and backup goalkeeper Sam Euler came off the bench to preserve the lead, sending the fifth-seeded Tar Heels to a 2-1 victory Sunday night over Coastal Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship.
The win sets up an interesting homecoming at 7 p.m. Saturday, when UNC (15-1-3) will host 12th-seeded Creighton, led by former UNC coach Elmar Bolowich. Bolowich guided UNC to its first NCAA championship in 2000.
The crowd of 1,036 had barely settled into their seats at Fetzer Field before Hume, UNC’s leading scorer despite playing mostly off the bench, put the Tar Heels on the scoreboard. He picked up his 11th goal of the season by putting in a cross from David October with only 1:54 elapsed.
Hume, who had another shot hit the post, helped UNC to its second goal in the 85th minute. He received a throw-in on the left side from Jordan McCrary and curled a pass to Zach Wright breaking in behind the defense. Wright found the left corner of the net for his fifth goal.
“I chested it to the middle and saw Zach pulling away,” Hume said. “I couldn’t decide at first whether to put it between the defender’s legs or curl it around him.”
It turned out to be crucial because Coastal’s Tobenna Uzo put in the rebound of a shot by Sergio Camargo for his sixth goal to close to 2-1 in the 88th minute. The Chanticleers (13-3-4) took five shots in a wild final three minutes, including a free kick by Camargo from 20 yards that sailed just over the crossbar in the 89th.
Euler made two of UNC’s four saves in relief of starting goalkeeper James Pyle, who left the match after 35 minutes with a head injury when Uzo, Coastal’s 6-foot-4, 210-pound forward, crashed into him trying to get on the end of a cross. Euler, a redshirt senior who had started four matches and played in six overall, held the Chanticleers at bay, including a save on a point-blank attempt by Camargo in the 79th minute.
“That’s the life of a backup goalkeeper,” Euler said. “It’s no different than a field player coming off the bench. I have to be ready for when my name is called.”
Hume was making only his third start of the season for UNC, but UNC coach Carlos Somoano wanted more height against the Chanticleers, who featured four players 6-4 or taller.
“He came through with a goal and an assist,” Somoano said. “But that’s no different from when he comes off the bench. That’s a very tall team in Coastal Carolina. It seemed like when we took him off for a break (in the second half), things got really hairy.”