For the first time since 2011, JMU advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men’s soccer tournament. Goals from junior midfielder Manuel Ferriol and senior forward Aaron Ward-Baptiste lifted the Dukes to a 2-1 win over No. 5 UNC.
“It was absolutely an amazing win for us,” head coach Paul Zazenski told JMU Athletics. “One of the things we talked about a lot was believing in ourselves and our abilities. We have a really good group and a really tight group. We really believed we could win this game from the start.
In the 27th minute, Ferriol scored his fourth goal in three matches to put JMU ahead. Just five minutes later, sophomore forward Giovanni Montesdeoca equalized for the Tar Heels. Heading into halftime, the game was locked at one apiece.
Ward-Baptiste scored the game-winning goal in the 68th minute. After a series of errors by the UNC defense, the Englishman pounced on the ball and shot it through senior goalkeeper James Pyle’s legs to make it 2-1. JMU was 22 minutes away from a program-defining win and needed its defense and goalkeeper to stand strong.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper TJ Bush and the defensive backline closed out the game and secured the victory, but Ferriol was sent off for a rough tackle against a Tar Heel player and will miss the next match. JMU will face in-state rival No. 12 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Sunday at 4 p.m.
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