For the second consecutive year, North Carolina failed to capitalize on home-field advantage in the ACC Men’s Soccer Championship.
The second-seeded Tar Heels were ousted in the quarterfinals by Syracuse, which advanced on penalty kicks 4-3 after the teams played to a 1-1 tie in 110 minutes of regulation and overtime at Fetzer Field.
Seventh-seeded Syracuse (11-5-3), which lost 2-1 at UNC on Oct. 10, will play at third-seeded Clemson in Wednesday night’s semifinals after the Tigers blanked Boston College 3-0 on Sunday. UNC (14-1-3) meanwhile will wait for the announcement of NCAA tournament bids on Nov. 16. Ranked as high as third nationally with an RPI of 3, the Tar Heels figure to earn a high seed, but may have given away a chance at being a top-four team.
After falling behind 1-0 on an own goal in the 28th minute to the 15th-ranked Orange, when a cross by Liam Callahan was deflected into the UNC net, the Tar Heels charged back after halftime with a lineup change.
Redshirt junior Tucker Hume started the second half and made the move pay off by scoring his ACC-leading 10th goal in the 60th minute.
The Tar Heels were without their second-leading scorer, sophomore forward, Alan Winn, who was sitting out with a red card.
“We’ve been playing with Alan and Omar (Holness) underneath center forward,” said UNC coach Carlos Somoano, who initially didn’t plan to alter his formation. “But it was obvious we needed Zach (Wright) and Tucker. The only way was to have them both up top.”
Hume’s goal came when he collected a throw-in from Jordan McCrary on the left side, took a few dribbles toward the penalty area and unleashed a rocket from 22 yards that found the far side of the net.
“As of late I’ve been wanting to take more shots outside the box,” Hume said. “I’ve been turning defenders. I wanted to rip (the shot) low and hard. I thought I would have the other one, but the keeper made a nice save.”
Syracuse goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert stopped a similar shot by Hume in the 71st minute, one of the freshman’s four saves, all in the second half of regulation. Hilpert also made a diving save on a 19-yard free kick by Holness in the 79th minute after the Orange were whistled for a handball just outside the penalty area.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper James Pyle had four saves of his own, and in the shootout Pyle stopped two shots in the initial round of five penalty kicks.
With UNC trailing 3-2, Hume leveled again with a big strike in the fifth round. But in the sixth round Callahan beat Pyle high and left for a 4-3 lead, and junior midfielder Warren Marshall sent his attempt over the crossbar, sparking the Syracuse celebration.