After a disappointing game in the ACC Tournament, the Tar Heels kissed their high-ranked hopes goodbye. They are ranked ninth in the bracket that was released Monday afternoon. If the Heels are going to make a run, it all starts with their first match on Sunday, November 20th at 7 p.m. at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, NC. Here’s a look at how the Tar Heels match up statistically with their first opponents:
First Round: Bye
Second Round: UNC vs. Florida Gulf Coast University/ University of South Florida
Florida Gulf Coast University has scored the most goals in NCAA soccer this season, averaging 3.05 goals per game. However, don’t expect FGCU to come out guns a blazing, as they have never faced a defense like North Carolina. The Carolina defense, led by senior center back Colton Storm and sophomore goalkeeper James Pyle, has allowed the least goals in the NCAA this season, averaging 0.45 goals per game.
Colton Storm (6) wins a header.
Carolina’s defense primary focuses will be Albert Ruiz and Arion Sobers-Assue. Ruiz has 20 goals and five assists to his name this year, as he is the NCAA’s top scorer. Sobers-Assue holds 11 goals and nine assists. If the Tar Heels can contain both him and Ruiz they should be able to control the match.
Albert Ruiz celebrates after a goal scored.
The Blue and Green’s explosive offense does come with a cost, allowing 1.47 goals per game. The Tar Heels offense is not shabby either. Freshman forward Nils Bruening leads the front bagging seven goals so far this season. Combining him and junior forward Zach Wright tallying five goals and six assists makes the Carolina offense dangerous.
While the Eagles would be a new face in Chapel Hill, South Florida would not. The Heels are familiar with the South Florida squad, last meeting them in the 2013 NCAA Championships when the Tar Heels won 1-0.
USF has experience playing top-notch teams as they matched up with Maryland (4-1, L), Florida Gulf Coast (3-2, L), Connecticut (1-0, W) and Clemson (1-0 OT, L). One point of interest is that the Bulls allow 12.4 shots per game while the Heels allow 8.35 shots per game.
The Bulls have scored 23 goals in 19 games this season, less than the Tar Heels 33 in 17 games and allowed 20 goals compared to the Tar Heels 8. Similar to Carolina, the Bulls do not have one scorer that by far leads the rest of the team.
USF’s top scorer, Nazeem Bartman, takes a shot.
If USF gets past FGCU they will play in Chapel Hill, which is to Carolina’s benefit being that USF has a losing record on the road.
Before North Carolina matches up with anyone, USF and FGCU will meet at Corbett Stadium in Tampa, FL at 7 p.m. Thursday night to see who gets the chance to travel to Carolina. The Heels will be watching to see whom they face on Sunday, November 20th, at 7 p.m. at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, NC.