CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – No. 8 North Carolina scored an early second-half goal and then withstood constant pressure throughout the second half from the Virginia men’s soccer team in posting a 1-0 win over the Cavaliers Friday evening at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. The tightly-contested match was the NSCAA’s National Game of the Week on FOX Soccer Channel. UVa (4-3-1, 1-1 ACC) had its four-match unbeaten streak snapped.
“I’m very proud of the team,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve come here and, in my opinion, outplayed our opponent. After the first 25 or 30 minutes of the first half, I thought we started to take the game over, and I thought the second half belonged to us. It doesn’t quite ease the pain of losing, but I think our future is bright. We need to get ready for another tough road game at VCU Tuesday.”
After a scoreless and evenly-played first half, North Carolina (5-1-1, 2-0-1 ACC) struck quickly in the second half when Danny Garcia found Andy Craven streaking down the right flank. Craven then beat UVa goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita (So., Raleigh, N.C.) through the wickets from five yards out for the score.
UVa’s offense pressed forward for most of the second half as the Cavaliers controlled possession and stayed in the UNC side of the field. The Cavaliers out-shot the Tar Heels 6-2 in the second half, while UNC did not attempt a shot in the final 25 minutes.
“It turned into a possession game for us with good passing and good chances, which is what we work on,” Gelnovatch said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
The momentum ebbed and flowed through the first half. Carolina controlled possession for the first 25 minutes and challenged LaCivita with three shots, two of which were on goal. UVa took its first shot 25 minutes into the game, and the match tide began to turn from there as the Cavaliers countered with pressure for the next 20 minutes heading into intermission.
One of UVa’s best scoring opportunities came in the 36th minute following a corner kick when Matt Brown (So., Charlotte) had his header saved by UNC goalkeeper Scott Goodwin; Brown got the rebound but his second shot was blocked near the post. UVa then took another corner, and Eric Bird (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) floated a shot from the top of the box which Goodwin made a leaping save to swat away at the crossbar.
LaCivita made three saves – all in the first half – for Virginia. Goodwin made six saves to earn the shutout for UNC. UVa out-shot UNC, 10-6, and both teams took six corner kicks. The match was riddled with 41 fouls – 23 for UNC and 18 for Virginia – as well as five yellow cards.
Virginia travels to Richmond, Va., at 7 p.m. Tuesday to battle VCU at Sports Backer Stadium. The Rams are unbeaten at 4-0-2 and receiving votes in the NSCAA poll.