Janos Loebe and Fordham could not get past North Carolina in the NCAA quarterfinals. (Photo courtesy of Fordham SID)
CARY, N.C. — Fordham University’s incredible and historic run through the NCAA Division I men’s soccer tournament ended Saturday night, dropping a 2-1 quarterfinal decision at third-seeded University of North Carolina.
Senior forward Alan Winn scored late in the 80th minute to snap a 1-1 deadlock to lift the Tar Heels into the College Cup. They will meet Indiana in the semifinals in Chester, Pa. Friday.
Winn tallied from 10 yards off a Zach Wright cross past goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu.
The loss snapped a memorable run for unseeded Fordham, which came back to defeat St. Francis Brooklyn in the first round at home, stunned 11th-seeded University of Virginia in the second round on the road, 1-0, and overcame sixth-seeded Duke University away from home in the Sweet Sixteen in a shootout, 8-7, after playing to a 2-2 draw.
On Saturday night, the Rams vied for their third consecutive upset in Atlantic Coast Conference country.
“The initial feeling is disappointment that we’re not going to play another game,” Fordham head coach Jim McEldery said. “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. 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, just real happy with how the guys conducted themselves through this tournament.”
The Tar Heels dominated possession in the opening half, but could not take many, if any quality attempts. The Rams, on the other hand, bent once in a while, but did not break as they defended well, limiting the hosts to a handful of shots that rarely threatened Nuhu.
Scoring opportunities were at a premium.
North Carolina’s best chance in the half came in the 44th when Mauricio Pineda fired a 28-yard shot on which Nuhu made a two-handed save.
The Tar Heels came close in the 55th minute when Pineda smashed a shot off the crossbar.
Five minutes later, North Carolina found the range as Wright scored from a difficult angle off a Jack Skahan assist to grab a 1-0 lead in the 61st minute.
The Rams didn’t panic. They just got even some 90 seconds later on a Jannik Loebe free kick after his brother Janos was fouled some 24 yards from the net.
Janos Loebe ran over the ball, letting Jannik drill a shot off the head of a Tar Heels defender and into the right side of the net while junior goalkeeper James Pyle froze in the 63rd minute.
After Winn scored his 11th goal, Nuhu denied Wright in the 88th minute.
Fordham had one final chance with 37 seconds remaining in the match as Pyle stopped Jannik Loebe’s shot from inside the penalty area.