(From the annals of last year’s sports journalism class comes this feature on current UNC men’s soccer head coach Carlos Somoano. At the time, he was just the interim coach and wasn’t sure if he’d land the top position. This piece caught him in flux.)
Carlos Somoano’s early dreams didn’t include Chapel Hill.
He spent his youth in Texas, the epicenter of American football. But while an entire state looked to the gridiron, Somoano and his friends traveled an hour and a half just for a few good hours on the soccer pitch. Everyone else called it a “sissy sport,” but Somoano was devoted. So devoted, in fact, that he made his way to a Division 2 program when college seemed like a distant possibility. So devoted that he played in Europe before suffering a career-ending leg injury. So devoted that he took his first job as an assistant coach for no pay, and his second for a mere $16,000 per year.
The Duke football essay project returns tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s the wrap from the weekend.
-Check the scoreboard, baby! (Right sidebar.) Duke has its first point of the Erwin Cup, and it was well-earned. Visiting the #5 UNC Tar Heels, the men’s soccer team pulled out an incredible 2-2 draw. Luckily, Will asked me the day before the game what would happen in the case of a tie, and we decided that the difference in possible points earned would go to the road team. So in this case, UNC stood to gain 3 with a home win, and Duke would get 4 with a road win. The difference is 1, so Duke takes the point.
Riley Wolfe scored the game-tying goal for Duke in the 84th minute, and the Blue Devils are now unbeaten in their last five matches.
-UNC women’s soccer did a better for themselves, winning 4-1 at Miami. You can watch the goals here.
-Duke women’s soccer continued its incredible season, and Tara Campbell earned yet another shutout, in a 1-0 win over Virginia Tech. You can see the nifty goal, scored by Kaitlyn Kerr after a great headed pass from Chelsea Canepa, here:
It was heartbreak city last night at Koskinen Stadium, as Kelly Cobb hit two shots into the cross bar and #4 Duke was forced to settle for a draw with #7 Virginia. Post-game comments from goalie Tara Campbell (excellent all night), Cobb (strong but unlucky), and head coach Robbie Church:
Another positive from the match was Natasha Anasi, the defender who was on the end of every header and seemed virtually unbeatable on the ground. All in all, it was a very solid defensive performance for Duke, but aside from Cobb, the offense seemed to lack a little speed. UVA had an answer for every attack, and eventually it became apparent that the only way a goal was going to happen was if Cobb did something dynamic. And she almost did, twice.
I’ll be at Koskinen tonight, at 8pm, to check this one out. Not only because I’m curious, but because I’m working on a story about Duke women’s soccer that will culminate on October 13, when they face Carolina in Chapel Hill.
For the first time maybe ever, you can actually make a compelling argument that Duke is better than their Tobacco Road rivals. UNC’s greatness is established; 20 of 28 NCAA titles, 20 of 22 ACC tournament championships, and a 33-2-1 all-time record against Duke. Even on the rare instances when the Blue Devils won, Carolina finished the year as the better squad.
This year, though, Duke is ranked higher. They beat Texas A&M, who beat Carolina. They beat Notre Dame 3-1, who Carolina beat 2-1 in overtime. And tonight, they have a chance to beat a team that just won against Carolina for the first time in 25 years of trying.
The real test won’t come until Duke faces Carolina, but this is another baby step; progress toward proving to themselves that they have the superior team.
Last thing: check out the awesome Erwin Cup scoreboard Will put on the right side bar. We’re going big time, baby!
It’s crazy to think of this as a possibility, considering UNC’s ridiculous dominance since the NCAA championship was founded in 1982 (20 of 29 titles), and their uber-ridiculous dominance of Duke (33-2-1 all-time). But there’s a chance that we’re witnessing a changing of the guards. Here’s the evidence:
1. Duke is ranked 4th in the country, while UNC is 5th.
2. UNC needed overtime to beat defending national champion Notre Dame 2-1. Two days later, Duke smoked ’em 3-1.
3. Duke freshman Kelly Cobb (7 goals) looks better than anyone on UNC, including Kealia Ohai.
4. Against four common opponents (Notre Dame, Houston, Texas A&M, UNC-Greensboro), Duke is 4-0 with a +11 goal differential. UNC is 3-1 with a +7 goal differential.
These are just numbers, and nothing really matters until the teams meet in Chapel Hill on October 13, but to see Duke consistently outperform their Tobacco Road brethren is quite a novelty. Looks like I picked a good season to get interested in college soccer.
Guess what, folks? We are just ONE WEEK AWAY from the first Erwin Cup showdown! On Saturday, September 24, Duke and UNC meet in field hockey, and the first points in Cup history will be awarded. The excitement is palpable. I might even attend the match. That’s how effing crazy this is getting.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we get to the weekend, a quick note from last night. The #5 Duke women are ranked ahead of the Tar Heels, a rare occurrence, and they preserved their lead with a 3-0 win against the College of Charleston last night. Check out the highlights below, including Kelly Cobb’s sixth goal of the season and a nifty header by Natasha Anasi.
Now, then. Here’s what’s on tap for the weekend in Duke and UNC sports:
Two weeks ago, after Kealia Ohai scored a pretty amazing goal against Houston (that link is just a recap- there is unfortunately no video, but you can see another great strike here), I looked to see if she was on twitter.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t, but my search produced another account. An account that made me laugh at first, but now kinda gives me the willies. Now I turn to my readers for their judgment; is this A-okay, slightly strange but no big deal, or off-the-wall bizarre? I present to you:
For the first time in program history, the UNC women’s soccer team lost after leading by two goals.
I didn’t get to see this game, and on paper it doesn’t make much sense. Over the weekend, #10 Duke and #1 UNC played Texas A&M and UNC-Greensboro, but not each other, in the Duke Nike Classic. The Blue Devils pounded A&M into submission on Friday, winning 7-2, while UNC topped UNC-G 2-0 (UNC’s goals here). On Sunday, the expectation was that the Tobacco Road powers would grab two more wins. Duke held up its end, winning 2-0. After her great weekend, in which she notched two goals and four assists, Alaskan freshman Kelly Cobb was named TopDrawer’s National Player of the Week. You can see the Duke highlights below. Kaitlyn Kerr’s nifty goal is at 1:45, and Erin Koballa strikes at 3:30.
Right now, I think it’s fair to say Ohai is the most exciting athlete at either school. A reader sends in this video of UNC’s 3-0 victory over Ohio State this weekend, and Ohai’s goal is at the :25 mark: