Through the first three games in the 2020 men’s soccer season, the Wolfpack has suffered an 0-3 start for the first time since 2016, not including exhibition and tournament games. The most recent of these losses comes from a rematch against Duke on Oct. 9, where the Pack fell 3-1 in its home opener. While it may seem like optimism is out of the question for this Wolfpack squad, the team’s first few games offer some takeaways to focus on for the remainder of the season.
Offense has been hard to find for this NC State team, who has been outshot not only in the aspect of volume but accuracy as well. Through its first three games, the Pack has a shot-on-target percentage of 30% (23 shots with 7 on goal) compared to its opponents total of 45% (29 shots with 13 on goal).
The volume should not be as great of a concern as accuracy for this roster, as the team can find the chances but have struggled greatly with capitalizing on them. If the percentages are not concerning enough, the Pack hasn't managed to score more than one goal in any of its games. This begs the question of whether this team has the offense capability to make an ACC postseason run.
NC State has just eight corners compared to its opponent’s 18. At such a huge disadvantage from the corner, it is no surprise that the Wolfpack has a hard time establishing itself in the final third.
More set piece opportunities from NC State could very well allow for more opportunities on the offensive end. Outside of a potential increase in shots on goal, corners would also allow the Pack to control the pace of play for a period of time. This could prove vital to the team’s success in maintaining possession and playing its brand of soccer going forward
NC State has established itself as a physical group with an aggressive mindset when it comes to challenging. This has proved to be a gamble, however, as the team has managed to suffer more yellow cards than its opponents (nine to five) since the beginning of the season.
Whether or not this can be blamed for its lackluster start, out-carding the opponent can set a team up for failure in the later stages, where big, aggressive tackles are necessary to keep the game in balance. Cutting back on early cards, especially in the first half where the Pack has suffered three yellows to its opponent’s zero, can only benefit this team moving forward for the remainder of the season.
NC State faces off against Navy in an out-of-conference matchup on Sunday, Oct. 18 at Dail Soccer Field at 7 p.m. How the remainder of the season will look for the Pack relies heavily on the outcome of this game. Catch the game live on ACC Network Extra or Watch ESPN, and get live updates by following @TechSports on Twitter.