For the second consecutive year, the North Carolina Tar Heels are in the College Cup semifinals. This year though, the team is looking to make it back to the College Cup finals for the first time since 2011.
The Tar Heels enter the semifinals having earned points in seven of their last eight matches, with wins against Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and Old Dominion. Specifically, in the College Cup tournament, North Carolina has outscored opponents 6-2, facing North Carolina-Wilmington, SMU, and the Cinderella Fordham. The win against UNCW was extra sweet, as the Tar Heels got revenge for an early season loss to the Seahawks.
Much of North Carolina's success has been because of the second-ranked ACC offense. The Tar Heels have three players with 20-plus points, with another player sitting at 19 points. Leading North Carolina is Cam Lindley with 27 points (seven goals, 13 assists), followed closely by Jelani Pieters with 25 points (nine goals, seven assists), Alan Winn with 24 points (11 goals, two assists) and Zach Wright with 19 points (four goals, 11 assists). Lindley, Pieters, and Winn all are in the top-10 for the ACC in points, and Lindley and Pieters are No. 2 and No. 3 in the ACC in terms of assists.
Having multiple players who can chip in offensively is a bright spot for the Tar Heels, and it will be especially important when the team faces off against Indiana, which has the best defense in the country.
The North Carolina defense has been strong throughout the 2017 season, despite having three goaltenders make multiple starts. Each goalkeeper appeared in five games or more, with each player making at least three starts. During the team's run through the College Cup, James Pyle has been in net for the Tar Heels. During the 2017 season, Pyle sports a 6-1-0 record while playing more than 600 minutes in net. He's shown no rust since coming back from his injury, and has been a brick wall for the Tar Heels as a final line of defense.
Last season, North Carolina fell to the eventual champions in Stanford in penalty kicks. The match against Indiana could prove to be another match destined for penalties, but a strong offense and a fresh goalkeeper could be enough to push the Tar Heels past the Hoosiers and into the College Cup finals for the first time since 2011.
Kick-off for North Carolina vs. Indiana is at 8:45 p.m. ET. Tickets are still available for the semifinals and finals.