North Carolina survives Indiana
Schuler notches eighth game-winner in overtime thriller
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Forward Billy Schuler found some overtime magic once again on Sunday as he slotted a ball past the Indiana goalkeeper to give top-seeded North Carolina a 1-0 win against the 16th-seeded Hoosiers. The win advances North Carolina to the national quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive year.
Senior captain Kirk Urso forced a turnover of Indiana's Chris Estridge at the top of the box in the 97th minute and Schuler jumped on the loose ball. Schuler turned to his right where he was met by a pair of IU defenders. Carolina's leading scorer moved back to his left and sent a shot to the far post where it found the side netting to give Carolina the 1-0 win and advance the Tar Heels.
Schuler's tally was his 15th of the year as he moved into a tie for eighth place in UNC single-season history. The goal was Schuler's team-leading eighth game-winner of the year and third in overtime.
The teams battled to a scoreless draw after the 45 minutes as the Hoosiers were the aggressors in the early going. Indiana managed to force three corner kicks in the opening five minutes but the Tar Heel backline was equal to the task.
The Hoosiers' best chance of the first half came off of one of the corners when A.J. Corrado's corner found the head of Tommy Meyer on the back post but Meyer's header went wide of the target.
After the initial attack, the Tar Heels answered with a run by Ben Speas. The junior forward was streaking down the middle of the pitch with the ball at his feet before sending a pass to his right where Billy Schuler was making a run. Schuler settled the ball and worked toward the middle of the field before flicking a shot on goal that Indiana's Luis Soffner saved.
Kirk Urso nearly got the Tar Heels on the board late in the first half as the Tar Heels started controlling possession and were able to earn a corner in the 37th minute. Urso played a short corner to Speas, who settled the ball allowing Urso to play an in-swinging shot toward goal. Urso's shot was destined for the center of the goal before Soffner punched it over the cross bar for another corner.
Once again, Urso played the corner to Speas and sent a shot this time to the far post but Soffner was able to scramble back and deflect it out for yet another corner kick.
Indiana had its best chance of the day wiped off the board on an offsides call just after the halftime break. Nikita Kotlov was on the left flank and fired a shot from just outside the box that defender Matt Hedges was able to get a boot on and the resulting rebound was put away for what looked to be the first goal of the day. The linesman's flag was up for offsides as a Hoosier was behind the Tar Heel defense when the shot was sent into the box.
After the near goal the Tar Heels regained possession and outshot the Hoosiers 10-4 over the final 40 minutes of regulation. Urso had the best chance at a goal for the Tar Heels in the second half as he sent a low, driving shot in from 22 yards out that found the far post but bounced back into the field of play before being cleared out.
Carolina had a final rally thwarted in the final minute of regulation as the Tar Heels were able to earn a pair of corner kicks but were unable to put a shot on target forcing the match into overtime.
Mikey Lopez and Enzo Martinez each tallied shots during extra time but it was Schuler's finish that helped propel the Tar Heels into the national quarterfinals.
Junior goalkeeper Scott Goodwin and the Tar Heel defense allowed 13 shots on the afternoon but were able to get in front of the majority of opportunities as the Hoosiers were unable to put a shot on frame all afternoon. Goodwin registered his ninth shutout of the season and now has 22 for his career.
The overtime win was the fourth of the year for the Tar Heels who are now 4-1-2 in extra time and are unbeaten over their last 25 matches at Fetzer Field.