CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Monmouth University men’s soccer team battled nationally-ranked No. 4 North Carolina into double overtime, but fell on Tyler Engle’s goal in the 103rd minute, in the season opener for both teams Friday night at Fetzer Field.
“We’re really proud of the effort from our guys tonight,” said Monmouth Head Coach Robert McCourt. We showed a lot of character, playing against one of the most prestigious teams in college soccer and almost pulled off a result at one of the toughest venues to play at in college soccer. We certainly feel like this is an experience we can build on.”
The Hawks developed a pair of quality scoring opportunities early in the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Bryant Avalos (Brick, N.J./Monsignor Donovan) made a run in transition for the Hawks, but his shot went wide in the early going. With 20 minutes left in the first half, Joseph Schmid (Kingston, Pa./Wyoming Valley West) put a free kick into the box. Tar Heels goalie Brendan Moore juggled the ball momentarily, before securing possession.
The Hawks thwarted several North Carolina scoring opportunities in the second half and first overtime. Hawks goalkeeper Stephen Graziani (Succasunna, N.J./Roxbury) got just enough of a hand on Chipper Root’s header in front to knock it off the crossbar in the 63rd minute and preserve the scoreless tie.
In the 79th minute, freshman Colin Stripling (Scotch Plains, N.J./Scotch Plains-Fanwood) put a header on net, but Moore was there for the save.
In the 103rd minute, the Tar Heels’ Jordan McCrary played the ball wide to Nick Williams. Williams slipped a pass to Engle in the top right corner of the 18-yard box. Engle turned and blasted a shot past Grazini’s dive into the opposite upper 90.
For the game, the Tar Heels took a 12-2 edge in shots and a 10-1 advantage in corners. Moore made one save to earn the win in net for North Carolina, while Graziani made two saves in defeat.
The Hawks return to action in North Carolina Sunday night, when they travel to Wake Forest. Kickoff from Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem is scheduled for 7 p.m.