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North Carolina Adds Additional Punch To Its Attack Heading Into 2023 Season

Tar Heels Add Several Transfers Who Have The Potential To Make An Immediate Contribution

Coach – Carlos Somoano – 13th season
Conference – Atlantic Coast Conference
2022 Record – 8-6-5 overall, 2-2-4 in conference
2022 National Ranking – Not Ranked
Five Year Win Total
2022 – 8
2021 – 11
2020 – 9
2019 – 7
2018 – 14
Key Departures

Victor Olofsson – Midfielder – Appeared in a total of 40 games with 8 starts over three seasons.

Cameron Fisher – Midfielder – Appeared in a total of 52 games with 16 starts over four seasons. Had seven career goals and five career assists. Appeared in 19 games in 2022 with eight starts scoring one goal and contributing three assists.

Milo Garvanian – Midfielder – Appeared in 86 games with 63 starts over five seasons. Started every game during the 2020, 2021, and 2022 seasons. Named to 2022 United Soccer Coaches All-South Region Third Team. 2022 All-ACC Second Team selection. 2022 team captain.

Sebastian Schacht – Midfielder – A graduate student transfer to UNC in 2022 after four seasons at Saint Mary’s where he was a multi-year All-West Region and All-WCC selection. Appeared in and started 19 games at North Carolina in 2022.

Tim Schels – Midfielder – Transferred to FIU after three seasons at North Carolina during which he started in 56 games with 54 starts with three career goals and eight career assists.

Key White – Forward – Appeared in 18 games in 2022 scoring twice and contributing two assists. Appeared in a total of 27 contests over three seasons.

Hili Goldhar – Midfielder – Appeared in 15 games with seven starts in 2022 scoring one goal and contributing one assist. A graduate student transfer to UNC in 2022 after four seasons at Syracuse.
2023 Outlook

Let’s begin by stating that North Carolina is among the programs for which a berth in the NCAA Tournament is an expectation as reflected in the fact that the Tar Heels have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament a total of 29 times including the 2022 season in which they played well enough to punch their ticket for the 14th time in the past 15 years. The Tar Heels have played their way into the College Cup nine times with the most recent being the 2020 season and won the national championship twice.

North Carolina pretty much played everyone close last year but their margin for error was small. They lacked the consistency in the attacking third that they needed to prevail in close contests as reflected in 1-0 ACC losses to Pittsburgh, Clemson and Syracuse and 1-1 ties with Duke and Boston College.

The bottom line is that the 2022 season was a good but not vintage campaign for the Tar Heels in which their ceiling was capped due to their inability to convert more of the scoring opportunities that came their way. UNC was next to last among ACC teams in 2022 with an average of 1.00 goals scored per game. The Tar Heels had the fourth best goals against average (0.89) in the ACC but their lack of productivity on the offensive side of the ball resulted in a small margin for error on defense. According any lapses in play or breakdowns on the defensive side of the ball were very costly.

Help looks to be on the way. UNC head coach Carlos Somoano, who ranks sixth in the nation in winning percentage among active coaches, has added several experienced transfers who should enhance the attack as well as experienced transfers who should strengthen the defense.

Graduate Student transfers forward David Bercedo an All-MAAC First Team selection who found the back of the net 14 times last year at Quinnipiac, midfielder Quenzi Huerman, a First Team All-Big East selection at Seton Hall, and forward Martin Vician, a two-time All-Ivy League selection at Yale are among the newcomers with the potential to make an immediate contribution on the offensive side of the ball. Graduate student defender Vemund Hole Vik, the CAA Defensive Player of the Year and a four-year starter at nearby Elon and Graduate Student goalkeeper Colin Travasos, a multi-year starter at California, are experienced additions on the defensive side of the ball.

Seniors Akeim Clarke (4g, 1a) and junior Daniel Kutsch are among returning forwards. Seniors Ernest Bawa (3g, 1a) Yaya Bakayoko (1g, 0a) and Ahmad Al Qaq, junior Juan Caffaro who missed a good portion of the 2022 season due to injury, and 2022 ACC All-Freshman Team selection sophomore Sam Williams (2g, 2a) are among returning midfielders.

A solid nucleus exists in the backline due to the return of highly regarded Graduate Student Til Zinnhardt (1g, 0a), senior Riley Thomas, a three-year starter, and junior Matt Edwards (0g, 1a). Redshirt sophomore Andrew Cordes, the starter in goal last year with a 1.00 goals against average and five shutouts, returns between the pipes with the benefit of a year of starting experience under his belt.

Last year the Tar Heels scored a total of 19 goals while allowing 17. That is not the ratio between those two key factors that the vintage UNC teams have had and is another indictor of a small margin for error. The level of success that UNC will enjoy in 2023 will likely hinge on two factors.

The first is the ability of the newcomers to effectively merge their talents in with returning players. Much will depend on the ability of the experienced graduate students to fill the gaps that exist particularly as it relates to productivity on the offensive side of the ball. The team’s 11-day international trip to Slovakia and the Czech Republic in May and the opportunity it provided for the 2023 squad to jell as a team was a big plus. The second is the level of improvement across the board in the play of the returning players and the ability of several who saw limited action last year to assume a greater role in 2023.

Those two factors will have a big impact on whether or not North Carolina is able to regain the balance between offensive productivity and solid play on the defensive side of the ball that has been the trademark of vintage UNC teams. The schedule will again be very demanding. Their are no easy games in ACC play but if this team is able to fortify and up their productivity on the offensive side of the ball they will find a way to win a greater share of the close contests that eluded them last year and improve on last year’s results.

Regular season opening games at home against Loyola Maryland and American followed by contests on the road against East Tennessee State and VCU provide an on-ramp for the Tar Heels to jell before beginning ACC play with a game in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech and a match at home against Notre Dame.

Martin Vician – Forward – Graduate Student transfer from Harvard where he was a two-year starter and Second Team All-Ivy League selection in 2021 and 2022. Had six goals and one assist in 2022. Had six goals and three assists in 2021.

Quenzi Huerman – Midfielder – A Graduate Student transfer from Seton Hall where started 18 games in 2022 and was an All-Big East First Team selection. Led Seton Hall in scoring with seven goals and four assists. Played at Palm Beach Atlantic where he was a United Soccer Coaches DII All-American in 2021 and the Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year before transferring to Seton Hall in 2022.

David Bercedo – Forward – A Graduate Student transfer from Quinnipiac where he was a starter in 2020, 2021 and 2022. A United Soccer Coaches All-Atlantic Region Second team selection in 2022 and All-MAAC First Team member. Had 14 goals in 2022 and seven assists. Had three goals and six assists during the 2021 season. Scored three goals and contributed two assists in 2020. Played for Ohio Valley in 2019 where he was named the Offensive Player of the Year scoring eight goals including four game-winner in 13 appearances.

Collin Travasos – Goalkeeper – A Graduate Student transfer from California where he appeared in and started 15 games in 2022 with a 1.35 goals against average and three shutouts. 25 .714 save percentage. Appeared in 35 games over three seasons for the Golden Bears with six career shutouts.

Vemund Hole Vik – Defender – A Graduate Student transfer from Elon where he was a four-year starter. Named the 2022 CAA Defensive Player of the Year and to the All-CAA First Team. 2022 All-Atlantic Region First Team selection. Had six career goals and four career assists.

John McDowell – Midfielder – Chapel Hill, North Carolina – C.E. Jordan High School – Played club for North Carolina FC. Played for NCFC’s USL1 team. Team captain. ECNL Mid-Atlantic First Team All-Conference.

Maclovio Sweet – Midfielder – Denver, Colorado – East Fusion Academy – Played club for Colorado Rapids MLS Academy. Played for Colorado Rapids 2 MLS Next.

Daniel Lugo – Forward – Saint Petersburg, Florida – Saint Petersburg Catholic – Played club for Tampa Bay United MLS Next. Named team MVP at Saint Petersburg Catholic High School.

Kai Tamashiro – Forward – Honolulu, Hawaii – IMG Academy – Played for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Team captain. MLS NEXT All-Star Offensive Player of the Year.

Andrew Kitch – Forward – Medford, New Jersey – Shawnee High School – Played club for JFC Real. Best XI as U.S. National Championships in 2017, 2018, 2019. Had ten goals and seven assist as a freshman at Shawnee High School. Named First Team All-State and Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore.

Kevin Corbell – Defender – Boca Raton, Florida – Spanish River High School – Played club with Inter Miami CF. Team captain for three years.

Gabe Velasco – Goalkeeper – Raleigh, North Carolina – IMG Academy – Played for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Selected to multiple U.S. National Training Center sessions. National Rush Select All-Star Team selection for two years. Goalkeeper of the Year at IMG in 2022 and 2023.

Michael Mellili – Defender – Palm Harbor, Florida – Clearwater Central Catholic – Played club with Tampa Bay United SC. Trained with Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2021-2022.

Tate Lorentz – Midfielder – Winston-Salem, North Carolina – Mount Tabor High School – Played club for North Carolina Fusion. Two-time NC Fusion Player of the Year. Two-time ECNL All-Conference.

Picture from University of North Carolina Athletics

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Posted in 2023 Team Reviews

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