Oct. 27, 2017
by Tony Jones
CARY, N.C. – In its home away from home in the 2017 season due to construction at its own ground, North Carolina looked extremely settled at the WakeMed Soccer Park on Friday. A pair of goals in the second half opened up what had been a tightly-contested game in a 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) victory over the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team.
No. 16 Notre Dame (9-5-2, 3-3-2 ACC) completed one of the hardest regular-season schedules in program history, and undoubtedly the hardest schedule of any team in Division I men’s soccer in 2017. The Irish faced seven national top 25 teams over their final nine games to close the regular season, and took on a total of eight teams that currently reside in the NCAA RPI top 50 at various times in the campaign.
A rough and tumble first 20 minutes yielded no ground for either Notre Dame or No. 3 North Carolina (14-2-1, 6-1-1 ACC). Neither team managed a shot attempt until 14 minutes into the contest, when the Tar Heels whipped shot a high of the Irish frame.
A great service in from the left wing by Felicien Dumas in the 25th minute gave Notre Dame its best look on offense during the game. The strong left foot from Dumas was headed just wide of the left post by Jeff Farina at the other end of the pass.
North Carolina took a 1-0 lead on the first real offensive surge for either team in the 34th minute. Jelani Peters headed home a Cam Lindley corner kick for his seventh goal of the year at 33:24 to push the Tar Heels ahead going into the half.
Notre Dame held the ACC Coastal Division champion North Carolina at bay for long stretches of play as the second half began, looking to build on the counter attack and square the score. Equally impressive defense from the Tar Heels prevented the Irish from gaining a foothold in the host’s third of the field.
North Carolina extended its lead in the 73rd minute. A cross that flipped the field from Peters found its way to Jack Skahan, and Skahan’s first goal of the year made it 2-0 in favor of the Tar Heels.
North Carolina capped the scoring with another tally less than two minutes later. Alan Winn gathered possession and blasted home his ninth goal of the season into the right of the Notre Dame mesh at 74:00 to settle the game’s final score line.
Notre Dame awaits its fate in the 2017 ACC Championship, with the final bracket set to be announced following the completion of all league games on Friday. The Irish will open the tournament on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. (ET) against an opponent to be announced.