CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — After a slow first half No. 8 North Carolina erupted for three second-half goals en route to a 4-1 victory against James Madison Tuesday night at Fetzer Field. Junior Enzo Martinez notched his first two-goal game of the season as the Tar Heels improved to 4-1-0 on the season.
Carolina came out controlling possession in the attacking third but were unable to get on the same page as the Tar Heels were whistled for a pair of offside calls in the early going.
After the first 15 minutes elapsed the Dukes took control of possession and mounted a charge against the Tar Heels. James Madison registered three shots in the opening 20 minutes, including one on goal as the Dukes tested the Tar Heel backline.
In the 28th minute James Madison lofted a harmless ball towards the top of the box where Jordan Gafa was waiting to chest it down. Gafa’s attempt to pass the ball to goalkeeper Scott Goodwin resulted in JMU’s Patrick Innes creating a turnover inside the box and converting it into the game’s opening goal as he beat Goodwin to give JMU the 1-0 lead.
The goal seemed to awaken the Tar Heels as Martinez forced JMU’s Justin Epperson into a save in the 32nd minute before Ben Speas sent a shot just over the crossbar less than 30 seconds later.
The Tar Heels finally broke through in the 38th minute off a failed clearance following a corner kick.
Martin Murphy sent in the corner kick that the JMU defense cleared out of the box to a waiting Enzo Martinez. The junior midfielder dribbled to his right and let a shot go from 25 yards out that beat Epperson to the near post for the equalizer.
Martinez’s goal gave the Tar Heels a lift going into halftime as they came out with much more aggression in the second half. Martinez forced Epperson into a save less than five minutes into the second half but the Dukes answered right back when Christian McLaughlin launched a shot from just outside the box that ricocheted off the cross bar.
Carolina used another failed clearance off a corner to its advantage once again in the 57th minute when Kirk Urso sent in a ball from the flag stick that was knocked down eight yards from the goal. Mikey Lopez ran onto the ball and deposited into the upper 90 for his second goal of the season.
Four minutes later the lead jumped to 3-1 when Billy Schuler scored his fifth goal of the season on a perfect through ball from Enzo Martinez. Schuler was able to sneak behind the defense and run onto a pass from Martinez and then took the keeper on delivering a shot into the back of the net.
Carolina had several more opportunities later in the second half that were unable to find the goal until Martinez finished off the scoring in the 85th minute.
Schuler and Martinez traded passes back and forth at the top of the box and Schuler found himself surrounded by four defenders. Schuler danced around the trouble and played Martinez into the box where the midfielder struck a shot from close range that beat Epperson for the fourth Carolina goal of the contest.
The Tar Heels would go on to keep the Dukes off the scoresheet the rest of the way in a physical match that saw 23 total fouls called and seven yellow cards issued, five to JMU and two to UNC.