Cary, N.C. – (December 2, 2017) – Despite a second half marker by Fordham's Jannik Loebe which tied the game in the 63rd minute, North Carolina's Alan Winn put in the game-winning header in the 80th minute, as the #3 seed Tar Heels topped the Fordham Rams, 2-1, in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The win moves North Carolina (17-3-1) into the NCAA College Cup next weekend in Philadelphia, while the loss ends an incredible run for Fordham, as the only unseeded team to make the NCAA quarterfinals.
"The initial feeling is disappointment that we're not going to play another game. Following such a tight game, 1-1 in the second half, we had just as good a chance to win the game as they did and we're disappointed," head coach Jim McElderry said after the game.
The first half saw the two teams try to feel each other out with only seven shots total in the period. Fordham's best chance of the period came in the 34thminute, as Janos Loebe crossed a ball in the box to Jannik Loebe, which UNC goalkeeper James Pyle punched away, as well as taking out Jannik in the collision. The ball came out to Bart Dziedzic for a shot, but it was blocked away.
The Tar Heels' best shot of the first half came in the final minutes on a free kick by Mauricio Pineda was stopped by Fordham goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu to the top left corner of goal.
Things began to open up at the start of the second half, when Jannik found Connor DeFilippis for a run on the right side of the box. DeFilippis shot though was blocked, keeping the game scoreless. North Carolina then almost scored in the 56th minute on a shot from distance by Pineda to the top right corner, but Nuhu just got a piece of it to direct the shot off the post and out.
The Tar Heels though kept the pressure on and would get the first goal of the game in 61st minute. Jack Skahan floated a ball over a group of players in the box, and took two hops to Zach Wright for a one-timer just inside the left post from ten yards out for his fourth goal of the season.
That lead didn't last long, as Fordham, who has come from behind four times from one-goal deficits in the NCAA Tournament, made it five in the 63rd minute. Janos was fouled from behind, giving the Rams a free kick from 23 yards out. Jannik lined up the shot as it deflected off a Tar Heel defender into the net for Loebe's team-leading ninth of the season and third of the tournament, knotting the game at one.
The score remained tied until the 80th minute, when North Carolina regained the lead at 2-1. Cam Lindley got the ball to the right side of the box to Wright, who was able to cross the ball in front for a header goal by Alan Winn, his team-leading 11th of the season.
Fordham had one last ditch effort to try and force overtime in the final minute, as Janos drove the ball down the left side, crossing the ball in front deflecting of a UNC defender. Jannik got the loose ball and tried a quick shot across his body to the right post, but Pyle was there to grab the save, ending the Rams' season.
Nuhu finished with three saves for the Rams with Pyle having one for the Tar Heels.
The Rams end their season at 14-6-3, setting new standards with a program record 14 wins and its first NCAA quarterfinal appearance.
"Once we have time to step back, we can appreciate everything our seniors have done and the entire 2017 group in order to advance in this tournament. To see all the people that came down to see and support us, I'm just real happy with how the guys conducted themselves through this tournament," said McElderry.