UNC Soccer: Tar Heel women and men both drop in College Cup semi-finals
One was expected and the other was a bit of a surprise, but the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s and women’s soccer teams have raced to the College Cup in each of their respective NCAA tournaments. On Thursday and then Friday night, everyone had the chance to reserve a spot for the national championship game, but unfortunately each lost in extremely frustrating circumstances.
The women’s defense has been extremely strong, not allowing a goal since the season resumed in March. Unfortunately, that was not the case in the national semifinals, with UNC losing 3-1 to Santa Clara.
After the teams traded chances early on, the Broncos broke through with a goal in the 20th minute after a game error allowed Santa Clara’s Izzy D’Aquila to pounce and put on one at home. The UNC were then held in check for the remainder of the half as they only managed two shots before the break.
Just five minutes after halftime, Carolina star and Hermann Trophy finalist Brianna Pinto evened things up. Sam Meza hit a perfectly weighted pass to Pinto, who was in control and finished to tie the game to one.
Unfortunately, the advance lasted less than a minute. A wandering pass led SCU to gain control of the ball in UNC’s box. After a first shot was saved, the Broncos’ Kelsey Turnbow rebounded to restore the Santa Clara lead.
Nine minutes later, another lost ball in the box went straight to SCU’s Skylar Smith, who had no one next to her. She put in a second home effort, giving her tam a two-goal cushion.
In the rest of the game, UNC gathered just one more shot, and even that happened in the final five minutes. It just seemed like the heels were a step too slow and came in second every moment that could have lead to a chance. It just wasn’t.
With that, their season ends with an 18-2 record. Not that this is much comfort, but those two losses have come to the two teams that will play for the national championship: Santa Clara and Florida State.
After all this frustration, the men’s team managed to lose in an even more annoying and frustrating way the next day. In their chance to secure a ticket to the national championship game, the Heels fell 1-0 to Marshall.
In the first half, UNC apparently got things right as Marshall didn’t get a shot in the first 45 minutes. However, they failed to take advantage of it, and it came back to haunt the heels.
On their first shot of the game, 15 minutes into the second half, Marshall took the lead when Jamil Roberts brought a ball into the box after a solid build-up from the Thundering Herd. It ended up being their first and only shot of the entire game, but Carolina still couldn’t take advantage of it.
After the goal, the Heels had five more shots, but couldn’t convert any of them. The final tally was 11-1 and 5-1 on goal. The problem was, Marshall had made that count.
It had been a great NCAA tournament run for the men as they upset the # 4 and # 5 seeds along the way, but sadly that’s where it ends. They end what has been a very strange season with an overall record of 9-5-4.