DURHAM, N.C.—North Carolina’s Brian Shiver tallied a goal in each half to lead the 16th-ranked Tar Heels to a 2-0 victory over rival No. 24 Duke in ACC men’s soccer action this evening. The loss is the first for the Blue Devils on their home field this season.
Duke falls to 6-4-1 overall and 2-2-1 in the ACC. North Carolina pushes its overall mark to 9-2-1 and 2-2-0 in conference play. It was the first win for the Tar Heels in Durham since 2000.
“They outplayed us,” head coach John Kerr said. “There’s no question about it. They were up for it and put great pressure on us and didn’t allow us to play our game.”
The Blue Devils came out attacking from the opening whistle. Senior forward Mike Grella got in behind the defense off an early pass from the midfield and buried the ball in the back of the net. His goal was disallowed as the assistant referee deemed him offsides when the ball was sent through.
Just a minute later, Grella got loose again and was brought down just outside the box by a North Carolina defender. Sophomore Cole Grossman stepped up and fired the free kick to the far post, but Tar Heel goalkeeper Jacob Wescoe was there to make the stop.
After the Blue Devils had the better of play through the opening 15 minutes, the Tar Heels were able to gain momentum and got on the scoreboard in the 18th minute. North Carolina’s right back, Zach Lloyd pushed forward into the attack on the right flank and served a ball to the far post for Shiver. Shiver headed the service to the left upper 90 past Duke’s Brendan Fitzgerald for the 1-0 lead.
The Tar Heels had the Blue Devils on their heels a little after that and had three more outstanding scoring opportunities in succession in the 20th minute. The first shot from just inside the box was blocked by senior Darrius Barnes. Billy Schuler’s chance off the rebound hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced out. Shiver was on the back post again to head it home, but Barnes was right there to clear the ball off the line and keep it a 1-0 game.
Just over 10 minutes later Duke’s rookie midfielder Joe Pak was able to collect the ball on the right side of the box. He cut back to beat the UNC defender and a fired a shot to the far post. Wescoe came up with the big save as he got just enough of the ball to clear it wide of the net. The Blue Devils continued to try to attack the Tar Heel defense, but were unable to get the equalizer as they headed into halftime trailing 1-0.
“We made their goalkeeper make some good saves. We weren’t at the back post to tap the ball in. If Temi makes that run in there he might have an easy chance, but we weren’t as sharp as we need to be. Give all the credit to them; they’re a very good team. They were up for it tonight and they played very well.”
North Carolina came out of the break with a lot of energy and continued to put pressure on Duke’s midfield. After having much of the run of play in the second half, the Tar Heels took advantage of an opportunity with less than 17 minutes left to play. After a Tar Heel player was tripped up in the penalty area and a Duke defender down on the ground, Shiver collected the loose ball and slipped it past Fitzgerald to seal the victory for North Carolina.
“I think we all thought it was a penalty to be honest,” Fitzgerald said. “Everyone kind of stopped. Give credit to the Carolina player, he had the wherewithal to play all. It really hurt us.”
Duke started to play more direct in the final 15 minutes of the game, but North Carolina’s defense stayed strong and never let the Blue Devils receive the ball and play towards the goal as the Tar Heels came away with the 2-0 road victory.
North Carolina edged Duke 10-7 in shots and 3-2 in corner kicks for the game. Fitzgerald made two stops for the Blue Devils, while Wescoe had four saves in the shutout win.
The Blue Devils host Florida Atlantic on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. Duke returns to ACC action on Oct 18 at top-ranked and unbeaten Wake Forest.
“We’re fortunate to have a game to hopefully get this out of our system,” Kerr said. “It was a disappointing loss, but we have to move forward. We can’t get too high when we win and too low when we lose. We just have to keep working hard and get back to basics.”