CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The High Point University men’s soccer team made program history on Thursday afternoon as it defeated North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 2-0.
It is the first win in the NCAA Tournament in program history and just the third NCAA Tournament win in High Point University’s NCAA Division I history.
Head coach Zach Haines: “I know it’s cliché to say, but I’m incredibly proud of our guys. They’re probably the most resilient group I’ve ever coached, you just know that they’re going to stick together, they’re going to fight all the way through, you know they’re going to give everything. And when you have that level of confidence in your group, that that’s what they’re going to bring, you know that anything’s possible. You know you can come to a place like Carolina in an NCAA Tournament and you can win. It’s so much credit to them. We can get into stuff that happens on the field, the tactical side, but at the end of the day it’s who they are as people that allow us to produce these performances and get these results.”
The Panthers relied on their defense in the first half as Holden Trent made two saves in seven total shots faced. Larson Rula tallied the lone shot for High Point in the first half.
HPU had never kept a clean sheet in the first half of an NCAA Tournament match prior to Thursday’s game, allowing two goals against James Madison in 2018 and one goal against Georgetown in the 2020 season.
High Point pressed early in the second half, putting pressure on a Tar Heel defense that allowed just 15 goals entering Thursday’s match.
After HPU drew a foul just outside the penalty area, Jefferson Amaya lined up for the set piece. Amaya barreled the ball down the middle, which bounced off a Tar Heel in the box and into the top of the net to give the Panthers the 1-0 advantage with 39 minutes to play.
High Point tacked on another goal just five minutes later as Larson Rula moved the ball down the field and found his brother, Holland Rula, in the corner. The eldest Rula made the cross to the far post where Noah Holmes was waiting to send the ball into the low corner.
With a 2-0 lead, the Panther defense tightened up defensively to hold the Tar Heels to just three shots for the last 34 minutes of the match.
Up Next: High Point advances to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament to meet No. 5 Stanford on the west coast. Kickoff is set for 8:00 PM (ET) on Sunday night.