North Carolina 2, Providence
North Carolina 2, Providence 0Nov. 22, 2005
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. No. 2 North Carolina stuck to its recent formula for success Tuesday, as the Tar Heels rode two goals from junior forward Ben Hunter and an eighth straight shutout by its defense to a 2-0 win over Providence in NCAA Championship second round action at Fetzer Field. With the win, Carolina (16-3-3) advances to the tourneys round of 16 and hosts the Virginia-South Florida winner at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Hunter, who has accounted for Carolinas last five goals, scored twice in a just over four minutes early in the second half to provide all the offense the Tar Heels would need. The defense took over from there and extended its school-record shutout streak to eight games and 817:22.
The victory snapped a three-game NCAA tournament losing skid for the Tar Heels, whose last postseason win came in 2002, and extended their current unbeaten streak to a season-long nine games.
Carolina held possession for much of the first half and outshot the Friars, 9-4, in the opening period but could not manage to find the back of the net. That changed just over 10 minutes into the second frame when sophomore midfielder Dax McCarty found Hunter off a corner kick at the far post for a header and a 1-0 Tar Heel lead at 55:55.
The goal came on a third consecutive corner kick for Carolina. Hunter took the first two to no avail but then deferred to McCarty, who set up Hunters first score with his team-best seventh assist.
Just over four minutes later, Hunter essentially put the game away with his second goal of the night and team-best 11th of the season. Junior defender Michael Harrington set up the play with a chip over the PC backline to Hunter, who beat Friar keeper Chris Konopka one-on-one from about five yards out at 60:01.
After the half we kept up the pressure, we simplified our game a little bit and knocked the ball around a bit back there, and thats exactly what the game needed at that point against a team that defended well, said UNC head coach Elmar Bolowich, who is now 12-9 in 11 NCAA appearances. We were fortunate on the corner kick with the combination of Dax and Ben so that we could get the go-ahead goal. The second goal was an insurance goal.
They were a very tough team. I expected them to be tough. They are a team that has nine ties on the season and there is something to be said about that. We are very happy to go through and see that we can play on Sunday.
Carolinas defense allowed just eight Providence shots, and junior goalkeeper Justin Hughes made two stops to earn his seventh shutout of the season and sixth straight, which ties a school record set by Watson Jennison in 1992. The Tar Heels have not allowed a goal since a 3-2 win at William & Mary Oct. 18.
UNC held a 14-8 edge in shots and an 11-2 advantage in corners. Konopka made two saves for PC and allowed two goals.
As the No. 4 seed in the tourney, Carolina will host the Virginia-South Florida winner at 1 p.m. Sunday at Fetzer Field. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $4 for students. The Tar Heels lost 2-0 at UVa earlier this season and have not faced the Cavaliers in the postseason since 1990. Carolina is 2-3-1 all-time versus South Florida.
-- Courtesy North Carolina