Sweet Victory, Bitter Defeat Contrast for Tar Heels

There was plenty to offer on the Tar Heel sports menu over the weekend, and while it was a heartbreaking end of the road for one Carolina squad, it was the continuation of a national championship march for another.

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UNC soccer senior midfielder and Greensboro native Glen Long will remember Saturday night’s game for the rest of his life.

The Tar Heels’ NCAA Tournament fate rested on the strength of his leg and with the game and the season on the line, Long’s penalty kick was gobbled up by UCLA goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr.

In the eighth round, the Bruins clinched the gut-wrenching home victory with another sprawling save by Edwards Jr. And just like that, UNC’s season came to a close with a 15-5-2 final record.

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics

For four impactful Tar Heels in particular, the loss will be even tougher to take. As seniors, their soccer careers at Carolina have now ended, including captain Boyd Okwuonu, goal scorers Tyler Engel and Andy Craven, and stingy goalkeeper Brendan Moore.

UNC  head coach Carlos Somoano will do well to replace such pivotal performers next season.

Meanwhile, the locker room was a happier place for the Tar Heels back on the east coast.

The UNC volleyball team continued its winning ways with a tough 3-1 win over Southern California inside Carmichael Arena Saturday evening. The Tar Heels have triumphed in a school record 19th straight contest.

Now Sweet Sixteen bound, head coach Joe Sagula says the 2nd round NCAA Tournament match was an outstanding showcase of top-notch volleyball.

“I want to congratulate our North Carolina program, as well as Southern California for a great match – what a great battle,” Coach Sagula says.

Carolina’s coach, now in his 25th season in Chapel Hill, lauds his strong stable of seniors for the perfect 16-0 season mark in the cozy confines of Carmichael Arena.

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics

“This is why I have these four seniors with us here right now. This is significant for this program, what these four represent to us and what they done and how they’ve seen this program grow. Tonight was a special night for them and for this whole team,” Coach Sagula says.

Senior Lauren McAdoo says she’s proud of her team for overcoming obstacles and reaching for their lofty goals.

“It has been a goal since we got here to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. It shows the heart and fight of this team, through all adversity, to stick to our goal and fought through it together,” McAdoo says.

Senior classmate Ece Taner, who notched 24 digs and a service ace against the Trojans, says she’s enjoying every moment of the historic season, but is also excited for the road that lies ahead.

“We want it as a senior class to be able to play a really tough team. We’re glad that we played a team and are really excited. It’s hard to describe how special this feeling is. We’re ready to play more,” Taner says.

Next up for the surging Tar Heels is a Sweet Sixteen showdown with tenth-seeded Oregon Friday in the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/sweet-victory-bitter-defeat-contrast-tar-heels/

UNC Men’s Soccer Loses to UCLA in Shootout

The UNC men’s soccer team fell to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals after eight rounds of penalty kicks in overtime Saturday night at Drake Stadium.

Carolina led the Bruins 1-0 going into halftime after a free kick goal from sophomore Omar Holness. The Bruins threatened early in the open of the second half and scored from close range in the 69th minute to tie the game, 1-1.

The Bruins scored another goal just moments later and led the Tar Heels by one. UCLA scored yet again in the 74th minute and were ahead 3-1.

The Tar Heels rallied back and scored two goals within 30 seconds of each other. Senior Tyler Engel scored off a corner kick in the 78th minute making the score 3-2. Twenty-four seconds later senior Andy Craven was able to snatch a goal off of an assist from Raby George.

Men's soccer 2

With UNC and UCLA tied 3-3 in the 90th minute, it would take a round of penalty kicks to decide the final team in the Men’s College Cup. With the game on the line, North Carolina sent Glen Long to take the kick. UCLA goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. made the crucial game-saving stop and both teams proceeded to make their next two attempts. Going into the eighth round, UNC’S Warren Marshall took the final shot for the Tar Heels, but Edwards Jr. was there to make the sprawling save to advance the Bruins into the Final Four.

The penalty kick victory was the first for UCLA in NCAA Tournament play since the 1990 championship game.

Four Tar Heels finished their soccer career with UNC Saturday night, including captain Boyd Okwuonu, goal-scorers Engel and Craven, and goalkeeper Brendan Moore.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-soccer-loses-ucla-overtime/

Tar Heels Aim For National Glory On Turf, Court

Two successful Tar Heel programs hope to take the next steps toward potential national championships this weekend. The UNC men’s soccer team hits the road at UCLA, while the Carolina volleyball squad opens up its NCAA Tournament inside the cozy confines of Carmichael Arena.

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Head coach Carlos Somoano’s men’s soccer team is on the doorstep of a College Cup in its own back yard.

The final four schools will contest the closing matches just down the road from Chapel Hill at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary – the 15-5-1 Tar Heels sure wouldn’t have far to go to celebrate a national championship on Franklin Street.

Rob Lovejoy in action (UNC Athletics)

Rob Lovejoy in action (UNC Athletics)

But before those dreams can be met, UNC must find a way past No. 2 seed UCLA on their home turf, a daunting task to say the least.

Unseeded Carolina, one of only two remaining in the quarterfinals, will rely heavily on senior forward Rob Lovejoy, who was named TopDrawerSoccer’s Player of the Week after scoring both goals in his team’s 2-1 triumph over Clemson last Sunday night.

With Lovejoy’s offensive prowess and UNC keeper Brendan Moore’s proclivity for goal-saving heroics, the Tar Heels will go into Saturday night’s 8 p.m. showdown in Los Angeles with a shot.

Meanwhile, back on the east coast, the Tar Heel women are ready to serve up a storm on the volleyball court.

Fresh off an ACC regular season title, UNC head coach Joe Sagula says he’s proud of his team’s accomplishments in 2014.

“Without question, this team has done a lot of great things this year – highest ranking ever, highest RPI ever, finishing with a conference championship. It’s going to go down as a pretty special thing to beat. I’m excited for them all,” Coach Sagula says.

Chaniel Nelson with the spike (UNC Athletics)

Chaniel Nelson with the spike (UNC Athletics)

Fifth-year senior Chaniel Nelson, who earned her second ACC Player of the Week honors on Monday, says she couldn’t be more excited for the way her final season in Carolina uniform has turned out.

“I am very excited. This makes my fifth year priceless in my eyes. We have more to. That’s what I’m even more excited about. I can’t wait until next week when we host for the first time in so long. This team is really special,” Nelson says.

Senior Ece Taner, from Turkey, says it’s special to know she’s leaving a meaningful mark on the UNC volleyball program.

“I can’t describe to you how proud, happy and excited I am to be able to make an impact on this program and be able to leave something for other teammates. When I come back and watch my teammates compete, I get to see the banner and say, ‘Wow, I did something here.’ That’s everything you could ask for,” Taner says.

But don’t let Taner’s excitement fool you. She’s not satisfied. The Tar Heels want more.

“This was one of our goals. Our mission still continues. We still have hopefully, four more games to go. We’re really excited about that. We’re humble, we’re hungry, and we want more,” Taner says.

A humble and hungry mindset could produce a winning combo for the 26-2 Tar Heels, who open NCAA Tournament play Friday night against 21-10 Hampton.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-aim-national-glory-turf-court/

Tar Heel Men’s Soccer Edges Clemson, Advances To QFs

Rob Lovejoy netted a pair of goals and goalie Brendan Moore turned aside every shot he faced except for a penalty kick to help the UNC men’s soccer team advance to the final eight in the NCAA tournament with a 2-1 road win over Clemson Sunday evening.

Lovejoy, who missed the entire 2013 season due to a torn groin muscle, was terrific in scoring his fourth and fifth goals of the season for the Tar Heels (15-5-1).

Lovejoy’s first goal came off a superbly placed corner kick by Omar Holness that he headed into the top right corner of the netting for a 1-0 lead 13 minutes in.

The senior forward’s second tally came after he burglarized the ball from Manolo Sanchez in the offensive zone and ripped a shot into the lower right corner of the goal.

The Greensboro native’s second goal came after the midpoint of the second half and snapped a 1-1 tie.

Moore was terrific throughout, using superb positioning and quickness between the pipes to shut down Clemson. The Tigers (12-7-3) lone goal came via a Kyle Fisher penalty kick that he blasted down the middle of the goal at the 23-minute mark of the opening half.

Moore started to go to his right but still nearly booted the shot away, though the force of the drive was too much to be denied. Moore still collected seven saves, compared to just a pair for Tiger netminder Andrew Tarbell.

Otherwise it was match of missed opportunities for Clemson, as Sanchez either shot wide on a few chances or was stymied by Moore. Clemson’s national title count will hold at two, while the Tar Heels will continue their pursuit for a third crown.

UNC moved on to the quarterfinals for the sixth time in the last seven years. The Tar Heels will play the winner of Sunday night’s match between No. 2 seed UCLA and 15th-seed California.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-mens-soccer-edges-clemson-advances-qfs/

Soccer Sweet Sixteen: Tar Heels @ Tigers

The North Carolina men’s soccer team meets seventh-seeded Clemson Sunday evening at 6 p.m. at Historic Riggs Field in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship Round of 16.

The Tar Heels, 14-5-1 on the season, advanced to the third round with a thrilling 2-1 victory at 10th-seed Charlotte last Sunday. Tyler Engel scored both goals for the Heels, including the game winner in the 89th minute.

Clemson, meanwhile, held off Coastal Carolina by the same 2-1 margin in a Monday night matchup on home turf.

The two ACC foes played earlier this season on Oct. 3 in Chapel Hill. Carolina fell behind 2-0, but the Tar Heels stormed back and won the match on a Raby George penalty kick in the 102nd minute.

But the Tigers went on the claim the ACC Championship earlier this month at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.

The winner of Sunday’s match moves on to the quarterfinals and will face the survivor from the California-UCLA contest.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/soccer-sweet-sixteen-tar-heels-tigers/

UNC Sports Weekend Offered Up Plenty

With fall sports conducting NCAA playoffs and basketball season now in full swing, it was an eventful weekend for Tar Heel athletics. UNC athletes experienced both the thrill of victory and the bitter taste of defeat.

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The UNC men’s and women’s basketball teams have hit the road with desirable final destinations. The men are Bahamas bound, while the women are headed to Hawaii.

But the two squads made quick pit stops over the weekend. The men stopped in Charlotte to take on the sharp-shooting Davidson Wildcats Saturday inside Time Warner Cable Arena.

Meeks slamming it down (Todd Melet)

Meeks slamming it down (Todd Melet)

The sixth-ranked Tar Heels used an in-form defense to cool the Wildcats off and emerge with a comfortable 90-72 win to improve to 3-0 on the young season.

UNC head coach Roy Williams says he was pleased with his team’s play, especially on the defensive side of the floor.

“I think we beat a very good basketball team that is a difficult matchup for us. I thought defensively, it was by far our best game of the year,” Coach Williams says.

Sophomore Kennedy Meeks was impressive, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds. But Coach Williams says Meeks is still figuring out how to play in his new slimmed-down frame.

“I think it’s a day-to-day thing. We’ve got to get his mind correct – that he does have a different body and can do certain things. He’s giving me the tired signal, then goes out there, denies the pass 45-feet from the basket and goes down and dunks,” Coach Williams says. “I’ve told him all the time to give me the tired signal when he goes back on offense, not defense. He just doesn’t realize what his body can do right now.”

As for the women, they met up with the Oregon Ducks in Eugene Sunday and after a sluggish start that may have been credited to jetlag; the Tar Heels poured it on in the second half to run away with an emphatic 76-59 triumph and up their record to 4-0.

UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell’s halftime adjustments paid off. With the three-point shots misfiring, the Hall of Fame coach made it simple for her players – just dominate inside. The Tar Heels did just that.

“Offensively, we got the ball inside. I told them at halftime that our advantage is to get the ball inside. They can’t stop us. We’re out there jacking up all these threes. They weren’t going in. Everything we did [in second half] was to get the ball inside,” Coach Hatchell says.

After the game, Coach Hatchell says she received a special compliment from one of the officials.

“We want to just keep getting and better as a team. I really love this team. They’re great kids. In fact, right at the end of the game, one of the referees said to me, ‘It’s such a privilege and honor to call for your team because not only are you skilled, but your ladies are so classy.’ That’s pretty special. The image of how they represent themselves and especially the University of North Carolina, is tremendous,” Coach Hatchell says.

Danielle Butts dives to save the ball (UNC Athletics)

Danielle Butts dives to save the ball (UNC Athletics)

But not all UNC’s teams came out on the right end of the scoreboard over the weekend. There will be no 22nd national championship this year for the Carolina women’s soccer team.

The Tar Heel women were upset 1-0 by South Carolina in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon at Fetzer Field.

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance says despite the setback, he was proud of his team’s accomplishments this season that included a share of the ACC regular season title.

“I’m proud of my senior class. We had really good leadership. If you look at our season overall, we certainly overachieved. We were conference co-champs with Florida State and a No.2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That’s pretty good for a team that was without ten starters from the previous year. But the day obviously goes to South Carolina,” Coach Dorrance says.

For the seniors, the loss was especially tough to take. Senior Satara Murray, though, says she couldn’t have asked for a better four years as a Tar Heel.

It was a disappointing day for the UNC women's soccer team (UNC Athletics)

It was a disappointing day for the UNC women’s soccer team (UNC Athletics)

“All in all, I had a fantastic year. I had fun. It was an amazing four years. I’m excited to see what the future has in store, but I love playing with this team every minute, every game. These girls fought for one another, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Credit goes to my team for making this an unforgettable and memorable four years,” Murray says.

In other action, the UNC men had better luck on the soccer pitch, defeating tenth-seeded Charlotte 2-1 in rainy conditions Sunday to survive and advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels will face the winner of the Clemson-Coastal Carolina match to be played Monday.

And last but certainly not least, the Carolina volleyball team continues to serve up a storm. This time, the No. 7 Tar Heels bagged a 3-1 win over the Louisville Cardinals Sunday afternoon in Cardinal Arena.

UNC head coach Joe Sagula’s 24-2 team will wrap up the regular season this week with a pair of home matches – a rivalry encounter against No. 21 Duke and an ACC matchup with Wake Forest.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-sports-overdrive/

Men’s Soccer Moves on to NCAAT Second Round

The North Carolina men’s soccer team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championships with a 6-0 win over James Madison on Thursday night at Fetzer Field.

The Tar Heels, who move to 13-5-1 on the season, were led by Senior forward Andy Craven who had three goals and an assist in the win.  The Hat Trick, Craven’s second of the season, gives the 1st Team All-ACC selection 14 goals on the season, just one behind the national lead.

With the loss James Madison sees their season end with a record of 10-8-4.

It took nearly the entire first half for the Tar Heels to break through but when Craven did so in the 42nd minute the goals began to flow.

After taking a 1-0 lead into intermission the Tar Heels needed only 89 seconds to double their lead in the second half as Senior forward Rob Lovejoy was able to bang in a rebound from a Craven shot.

From there the Tar Heels poured it on as they outshot James Madison 24-2 for the game.

Carolina next plays in the second round against 10th seeded Charlotte on Sunday at 2p.m.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/mens-soccer-moves-second-round/

Tar Heel Sports Weekend A Mixed Bag

With the UNC football team enjoying a bye week this past weekend, other fall sports teams took center stage and experienced different results.

UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams says his team’s hard work in practice paid off last Friday night against Belmont Abbey.

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“Well we’re much more gifted naturally than that team was and we’ve been working pretty doggone hard in practice.  We’ve been getting after them a little bit and I thought in the first couple minutes we weren’t really in to it defensively and then we were really good defensively,” Coach Williams says.

Although Coach Williams was pleased with his team’s 112-34 win, he did see some room for improvement.

“We look like a Model-T Ford out there compared to how I want them to run.  That’s the reason I took those guys out, we had Nate (Britt) and Joel (James) out there and they looked like pedestrians that’s one of the reasons I jumped on them out there.  We need to run harder, we need to get out big guys running more.  It’s no where near where I want it to be but I think we’re going to get there,” Coach Williams says.

Sophomore forward Isaiah Hicks says the Tar Heels keep the atmosphere light in the locker room.

“(The team) is always together in the locker room playing games like ping-pong.  And then you have Joel (James) and Kennedy (Meeks) who are big goof-balls who keep the team laughing and together,” Hicks says.

Ping-pong is one of the team’s favorite ways to stay loose in the locker room but even in ping-pong the Tar Heels keep it competitive

“Marcus…J.P….we have tiers so tier one would be Marcus (Paige), J.P. (Tokoto) and Hoots (Coach Eric Hoots), that’s it,” Hicks says.

UNC volleyball head coach Joe Sagula was once again impressed by his team’s effort following a 3-0 victory over Virginia Tech Sunday.

“We got a lot of weapons and were able to use them all tonight,” Coach Sagula says.

UNC sophomore tennis player Brayden Schnur captured the USTA/ITA National Indoor Collegiate Championships Sunday with a 7-5, 7-6 win over Vanderbilt’s Gonzales Austin.

But not all Tar Heel athletes tasted success over the weekend.

The UNC women’s soccer team lost 2-0 to Virginia in the ACC Tournament semi-finals Friday night

The men’s soccer team lasted only two days longer as they fell 1-0 to Louisville in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Sunday.  Following the loss, senior forward Andy Craven says he realizes the regular season is over and that there are things to address before NCAA tournament play begins,

“If anything it was a good indication of where we need to be and what we need to work towards and to know that we haven’t arrived and we haven’t peaked yet.  As many goals we’ve scored it doesn’t matter, it’s playoffs now.  It’s important to maintain the good stuff we’ve done in the season and minimize the bad stuff,” Craven says.

Although not every Tar Heel was victorious over the weekend, the ultimate prize of a national championship is still within reach.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/mixed-bag-tar-heels-sports-weekend/

Weekend Game Preview

Carolina sports are in full swing this weekend with a host of games here in Chapel Hill for Tar Heel fans to enjoy.

Volleyball hosts Miami in Carmichael Arena at 6 p.m. The Tar Heels are 11-14 all-time against the Hurricanes – who are one of the ACC’s top performers with a conference record of 7-2.

Fans are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes as they cheer Carolina on to victory. There will be a trick-or-treat costume competition with the volleyball team after the match.

Men’s soccer will be taking Fetzer Field in a match against the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday at 7 p.m. This is the last regular-season match for the Heels before the ACC championships begin Wednesday, November 5.

Carolina is now ranked at No. 3 after a 6-2 victory over Georgia Southern Tuesday. Andy Craven tallied a hat trick in the match, naming the senior as the leading scorer in the ACC with 11 goals.

Women’s soccer travels to New York Sunday to face Syracuse at 1 p.m. This also marks the last regular-season match before the team makes its first appearance in the conference championships on Friday. North Carolina is ranked second in the ACC behind the Florida State Seminoles, who they share an identical 8-0-1 record with in the conference.

UNC has not lost a match since August 31st.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/weekend-game-preview/

UNC Men’s Soccer Downs Georgia State, 4-0

Nyambi Jabang scored twice to lead No. 8 North Carolina to a 4-0 victory over Georgia State Tuesday night from Fetzer Field.

The match may have started a bit slow with Carolina owning a majority of the possession, but when the offense got going it was difficult to slow down as the Tar Heels scored three times in a 16-minute stretch to take a commanding 3-0 lead into halftime.

Andy Craven, who was named the NSCAA National Player of the Week earlier today, opened the flood gates with his ACC-leading eighth goal of the year in the 27th minute. His shot into the left corner came off a fine passing combination from Alan Winn and Tyler Engel.

Jabang was subbed in for Winn after the Craven goal and that decision by head coach Carlos Somoano changed the complexity of the match. The Douglasville, Ga., native scored perhaps the highlight goal of the season when he deposited a shot from 35 yards into the upper-left corner for a 2-0 Tar Heel advantage in the 33rd minute.

Energized from the long-distance marker, the super sub wasn’t finished as he mustered up two more impressive shots, before capitalizing on a third opportunity that made it 3-0, giving Jabang the first multi-goal game of his Carolina career.

Omar Holness’ corner kick perfectly found the head of Jabang and he powered the ball from 7-yards into the back of the net at the 42:05 mark.

Engel looked to tack on another goal early in the second half when his left-footed boot hit the left post in the 49th minute.

Senior Verneri Valimaa made it 4-0 with a goal at the 88:42 mark by chipping the goalie from 10 yards out. Zach Wright earned the assist on the final goal of the evening.

UNC keeper Brendan Moore notched his third straight and seventh clean sheet of the season.

Carolina outshot Georgia State by an 18-1 margin, and owned a 6-1 corner kick advantage.

The Tar Heels visit NC State Friday at 6 p.m.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-soccer-downs-georgia-state-4-0/