North Carolina scored two early goals and cruised to its fifth straight win in the Clash of the Carolinas soccer all-star classic at Blackbaud Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Tarheels took a 5-1-3 lead in the overall series with the 7-0 win. The girls game ended in a scoreless tie, leaving North Carolina with a 6-1-2 edge overall.
North Carolina Most Valuable Player Tresor Mbuyu of Garinger High in Charlotte scored twice and had an assist to lead the Tarheels in the rout.
“I am very thankful for this opportunity to play in such a game as this and I am thankful for my teammates and their trust in me,” said the Liberty University signee. “It might look easy out here, but it’s never easy. We have great respect for South Carolina’s team and it was a pleasure to compete against them today.”
The Tarheels wasted little time in taking control of the boys game, scoring in the third minute of play when Mbuyu found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Later in the half — in the 15th minute — the Tarheels scored again as CJay Sparks finished off a pass from Hector Gutierrez for a 2-0 lead. Sparks, of Jacksonville, N.C., is an N.C. State signee.
In the 26th minute, Northern Guilford’s Riley Zerfoss scored to give North Carolina a 3-0 lead and Mbuyu scored again in the 34th minute, upping the lead to 4-0.
North Carolina tacked on two goals in the second half — the first coming in the 53rd minute as Ice Bennett of New Hanover scored off a rebound. Ten minutes later, Mbuyu left Brendan McDonough with a beautiful touch and McDonough finished it off for a 6-0 lead.
Bennett closed out the scoring with a free kick score in the 77th minute of play.
In the girls game, South Carolina got off eight quality shots in the opening half, but North Carolina keeper Celeste Barnard was credited with three saves.
North Carolina had more opportunities to find the net in the second half, out-shooting the Sandlappers, 7-6. Both keepers — South Carolina’s Sara Dooley of Pickens and Barnard of Panther Creek in Cary, N.C. — were selected as the game’s Most Valuable Players.
“I thought it was a great, evenly played game,” said South Carolina head coach Steve Lea of Spring Valley High School. “We had some great chances in the first half. We just couldn’t finish off a few shots. I thought the South Carolina team played great. We played hard and I thought we really came together in one day and put on a good display of soccer.”
Ashley Ridge’s Amelia Clower, one of six Lowcountry players on the South Carolina roster, says the goal of every contest is to win but understands how hard winning all-star games can be.
“We all wanted to win, but the big thing was just getting the honor of playing in the game and getting to play with so many great players,” said Clower, who is headed to UNC Charlotte in the fall. “It was a good game. It’s hard to get everyone on the same page in just one day, and both teams were really talented, so getting a tie is OK with me. It was a great experience overall.”