College crushed, 6-1, by No. 2 North Carolina

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Senior forward Ryder Bell and the Tribe could not keep up with the 2nd-ranked Tar Heels, falling 6-1. COURTESY PHOTO // TRIBE ATHLETICS

After dropping its first road match of the season in overtime to Villanova, William and Mary returned to Martin Family Stadium to take on 12th-ranked Atlantic Coast Conferencefoe North Carolina. The Tar Heels (2-1) were also looking to snap a brief losing streak after a 1-0 loss to 2017 national runner-up Indiana last week. The Tribe (1-2) managed to keep the scoreline even for nearly 15 minutes, but an onslaught of goals by the Tar Heels and a lack of offense by the College resulted in a 6-1 defeat for the College.

The match started slowly with neither team recording a shot on goal in the opening ten minutes. The Tar Heels registered the lone shot in that time in the fourth minute, but the effort did not pose a threat to freshman goalkeeper Connor Andrews. However, the Tar Heels made the most of their first shot on target. After a costly turnover in the College’s defensive half of the field, midfielder Mauricio Pineda wove through the Tribe’s defense before placing a shot in the lower right corner, past a diving Andrews.

After taking the lead in the 15th minute, North Carolina nearly doubled their advantage three minutes later, but the tally was waved off due to an offside call. In the 22th minute, the College was hurt by another costly error near its 18-yard box. The Tribe committed a foul that led to a free kick from the left side of the box. Midfielder Jack Skahan took the free kick for the Tar Heels and bent the ball into the center of the box, where forward Nils Bruening slightly redirected the ball with his head into the right corner of the net.

“[Defending set pieces] is something we have to continue to work at,” head coach Chris Norris said. “We know that [North Carolina] are a good team in those situations.”

Bruening added a second goal for the evening in the 32nd meeting to extend the Tar Heels’ lead to a commanding 3-0 with time still remaining in the opening half.

“We know that we’re not as bad as we were at times tonight,” Norris said. “We have to try to digest this one quickly, learn as much as we can from it and try to be better on Monday night … we’re going to try to keep getting better all the time and I’m confident that we will.”

While the Tar Heels continued to facilitate odd-man rushes and shots, the Tribe rarely had possession in its attacking half and was held without a shot for the first 32 minutes of the match.

“We have to collectively do a better job of retaining possession individually,” Norris said. “We have a lot of good pieces, we just have to find a better way to fit them all together.”

When senior midfielder Antonio Bustamante’s finally got a shot off for the Tribe, it was blocked and the ensuing corner kick did not lead to a scoring opportunity. The Tribe headed to the break trailing 3-0.

North Carolina continued to control the match in the second half and added another goal in the 59th minute to push the lead to 4-0. This time, forward Giovanni Montesdeoca found the back of the net for the Tar Heels. Bustamante nearly answered back less than a minute later, but his shot from distance slid just wide of the right post and harmlessly out of play.

The Tribe finally got on the board in the 80th minute on a hard shot by junior forward Julian Ngoh off of a pass from Bustamante. However, the Tar Heels answered quickly with two more goals and cruised to a 6-1 win.

The Tar Heels were led to victory by Montesdeoca and Bruening’s two-goal efforts. Montesdeoca also tacked on an assist. The Tribe was led by Bustamante’s two shots and an assist and Ngoh’s goal in the 80th minute. Ngoh has now scored two goals this year, and Bustamante has tallied four assists in three matches. Andrews recorded three saves in goal, despite conceding six.

While the Tar Heels will look to win back-to-back matches for the first time in the 2018 season when they take on Jacksonville, the College will attempt to halt its losing streak at two matches. The Tribe will seek to win its first road match of the season when it travels to Raleigh to square off against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, another ACC opponent, Sept. 3. The Tribe will have a few more non-conference games before it opens its Colonial Athletic Association title defense Sept. 14 against Charleston.

“We know that we’re not as bad as we were at times tonight,” Norris said. “We have to try to digest this one quickly, learn as much as we can from it and try to be better on Monday night … we’re going to try to keep getting better all the time and I’m confident that we will.”