Light on the Horizon

Light on the Horizon

Hi, Argyle family. I’m writing today with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

Friday night our men’s soccer team didn’t make it to the College Cup final, and while that may be upsetting, day-, or week-ruining, it seems that we have more to be grateful for than we have to be sorrowful.

This may seem like a nonsensical statement: we didn’t win Friday night, we didn’t play in the final, we’re losing three incredible seniors that we love—Alan Winn, Zach Wright, and David October—but consider the wins we got. In the composite, they more than make up for the stinging pain of loss, even if you're unwilling to accept that just yet.

Alan, Zach, and David devoted themselves to the Carolina soccer program for four memorable years. We got to witness them grow up as individuals on and off the pitch, we got to experience their football skills firsthand, and now we get the satisfaction of being able to call them Tar Heels forever.

When asked about the relationships on the team, sophomore Cam Lindley said this:

“It’s going to be tough losing our seniors. They were good emotionally on and off the field and they always get us focused on what was important. I think the underclassmen, the guys that we have coming back next year, and the freshmen will continue to cherish the relationships we have and build on it. Here at North Carolina, we’re a family and that doesn’t change year to year.”

We’re a family. Always.

If that doesn’t dilute the pain from the loss, then I don’t know what will.

Think of the excellence we’ve been gifted as Carolina fans this season rather than the lousy ending; that part’s worth remembering.

What else is worth remembering?

The ACC Coastal Division title that was earned. The fact that Carolina is the NCAA leading program in NCAA Championship wins: 23, Sweet 16 Appearances: 9, Elite 8 Appearances: 8, and Men's College Cup Appearances: 6.

Now that we’ve acknowledged that we’re pleased with the 2017 Tar Heel campaign even though the season ended one loss and a full 90 minutes early, we can talk about the final game that was played against the Indiana Hoosiers.

The game was knotted nil-nil until the 50th minute when Indiana capitalized on the first corner of the game, Andrew Gutman tapping in the ball assisted by Trevor Swartz.

Despite the Heels having multiple chances while adding pressure up front, nothing was going past Trey Muse, the Hoosiers' keeper.

“I think in the first half we really wanted to possess the ball but we didn’t go at them. We didn’t attack; we just connected our passes laterally,” said head coach Carlos Somoano. “It’s not a bad thing when it turns into going forward but we paused when we had to go forward. We needed to take it just a little bit quicker. If we pressed just a tiny bit and passed just a tiny bit quicker I think the game changes.

We struggled with that a couple of times this year and it’s just a part of what we needed to develop. It took a while to get through some of these lessons and sometimes the weaknesses that come out against good teams and I think that happened tonight," added Somoano. "To be honest, I didn’t think we played that bad either. Obviously, we’re talking about the difference between winning and losing but it was a tight game. It came down to a corner kick. I thought we played well and they played well, and Indiana was the better team.”

Indiana stayed tight at the back, and the Carolina team that has relied purely on instinct and tactic was no longer relying on instinct and was instead overthinking every move they made.

“I hate using this term but I think we overthought it. It’s obviously a good thing to have your players thinking but I thought we were overthinking more than being instinctual,” said Somoano.

This is not the time for what-ifs or regrets. This is not the time for trying to make it all better for those smarting after the loss, or the time to feel jealous of the team that went on.

I guess it all comes down to a John Green quote--because it wouldn’t be a season-ending piece by me if there wasn’t one involved: “You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”

I like my choice to follow Carolina: to bleed Carolina blue and have my mood depend upon the well-being of my team.

I like my choice to support the young men on the Carolina men’s soccer team. I like my choice to have my heart broken by the season ending.

I also know that because you're here, reading Argyle Report and keeping up with all the teams on campus, you like your choices as well. You wouldn't want your heart broken by any other team either. 

Thank you to the seniors, to the men’s soccer program, and the university. The memories of the 2017 campaign will not be looked back on with a grey cloud hanging over them. They will instead be looked upon fondly, like a light on the horizon shining through in a dark time, and with the knowledge that despite the final result, I know that the boys in blue are the best team.

Thanks, Heels.

@ohenley5

Photo by Caleb Jones