The NC State men’s soccer team will travel to Chapel Hill this Sunday, Nov. 1, for its second-to-last game of 2020 against No. 5 North Carolina.
Continuing an entire season full of tough ACC matchups for the Wolfpack (0-5, 0-4 ACC), the Tar Heels (2-1-1 ACC) certainly will not be an easy mountain to climb. The Pack most recently lost a 1-0 thriller against No. 3 Clemson and is still searching for its first win this year.
NC State’s offense has suffered all season, especially with the added effect of COVID-19 complications and contact tracing. Junior forwards Ivy Brisma, Kuda Muskwe and junior defender Alex Bautista are the only three who have scored a goal for the Pack in 2020, while redshirt sophomore midfielder AJ Seals and junior defender Pepe Garcia are the only two to record an assist. The Wolfpack averages eight shots per game, but a majority of the time, these shots don’t translate well to the scoreboard.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Leon Krapf has been a bright spot for NC State this season though. He had a career-high seven saves in the last match against Clemson, allowing only one goal in the 63rd minute to give the Tigers the lead.
Leon Krapf’s seven-save outing kept @PackMensSoccer close against the No. 3 team in the country.Krapf: “One bad decision from me on the goal. It happens, that’s soccer, it’s the goalkeeper life.”📝 @CamSpeight and @Wadebowman_https://t.co/lIaz71kPgq— Technician Sports (@TechSports) October 24, 2020
Now looking to Sunday against the Tar Heels, these two teams played each other earlier this season in an exhibition game, resulting in a 1-0 loss for NC State.
The Tar Heels are coming off a 3-3 double-overtime tie with the Clemson Tigers back on Oct. 27, but UNC also defeated Clemson in a 1-0 matchup earlier this season in intense fashion, with a goal in the 90th minute.
UNC’s offense is led by senior forward Santiago Herrera, who has two goals, including a late goal in the recent tie with Clemson, and senior defender Matt Constant, who has one goal and one assist. Sophomore forward Key White, senior forward/midfielder Lucas del Rosario and graduate student midfielder Filippo Zattarin are the other three with a goal for North Carolina.
Junior goalkeeper Alec Smir has been in the net for UNC all season. He currently has 13 saves and has only allowed four goals, three of which came in that recent game against Clemson.
Like almost every game this season, this will be another tough matchup for the Wolfpack. To have a shot at victory, it needs to score and keep the pressure on early, while continuing the strong defense it has shown in the last couple of games.
The game will kick off Sunday, Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. and be aired on ACC Network Extra.