October 14, 2017

Heavyweight clash between men’s soccer and UNC ends in stalemate

By Jordan Shim–

Neither team could find a winner after 110 minutes as fifth-ranked men’s soccer played to a goalless draw against fourth-ranked North Carolina at Lynn Stadium Friday night.

The Cardinals improve to 9-1-3 (4-1-1 ACC), while the Tar Heels improve to 11-2-1 (4-1-1 ACC).

“I was extremely proud of their effort tonight,” Louisville coach Ken Lolla said. “UNC didn’t play this week, so they were fresh coming in and for us playing off two days rest, and the effort we got tonight. As the game went on we actually got stronger, The second half was better than the first, and even in overtime, I felt we were pretty good.”

As expected, the game was a close defensive contest. Adding to the pressure of a top-five matchup, positioning in the conference was at stake. As a result, both teams took no chances. Louisville moved the ball from side to side, patient in their attack, forcing North Carolina to rotate.

It was the Tar Heels who had the best chances in the first half. They came close to scoring in the 30th minute on a corner kick. Cam Lindley sent in a cross, which met the head of Alan Winn. Louisville goalkeeper Will Meyer went up to the skies to tip the ball just over the bar.

Chances came few and far between after as both sides defensively kept each other in check. Mo Thiaw was presented the best chance in the second half for the Cardinals in the 82nd minute. After gathering in the ball in the box, he took his time to set up his shot but fired over.

Neither team could fire a shot in the two overtime periods to settle a point in the ACC.

After conceding seven goals in the first six matches, the team has found their groove defensively. Highlighted by the insertions of Meyer at goalkeeper and Ziyad Fekri at left back, the Cardinals have only allowed one goal in the past seven outings.

“It’s a collective effort,” Lolla said. “Will (Meyer) gets credit for the shutout as the keeper, but it starts with Mo at the top with how he’s defending and everybody else in between. We are a team that is committed to defending, and we do it well when we do it collectively.”

Following the result, Louisville failed to take sole possession of second place in the ACC, but all but secured a top-four seed with just two conferences matches to go.

It will be another short turnaround the Cardinals as they next visit North Carolina to take on Charlotte on Tuesday, Oct. 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

You can follow Jordan on Twitter @tlcjordanshim.

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