Freshman Danny Garcia found Martin Murphy with a perfect cross and the senior put it away in the 58th minute to lead No. 1 UNC past West Virginia, 1-0, Friday night.
Garcia made a run down the left flank and avoided a defender before hitting a left-footed cross. Garcia's effort curled away from the keeper and toward the middle of the 18-yard box.
Murphy was charging hard from the middle of the field and ran upon the ball hitting a one-timer on the volley. Murphy's shot was slotted past West Virginia goalkeeper Pat Eavenson and into the net to provide the lone goal of the evening.
The Mountaineers attacked the Tar Heels in the early going and held a 2-1 shot advantage at the half as the majority of the match was spent in the middle of the pitch.
The opening shot of the night came just seven minutes into the match when West Virginia's Peabo Doue ran onto a free kick but his ensuing header sailed wide of the target and out for a goal kick.
With 10 minutes left before halftime, Scott Goodwin came up with a save on a Ryan Cain breakaway attempt. Less than three minutes later the Tar Heels nearly got on the board when Cameron Brown blasted a shot from 10 yards out that was cleared off the line by a Mountaineer defender.
Carolina connected several passes in the early going of the second half and settled into its possession game.
The increased possession led to Garcia's run and Murphy's eventual game-winning goal for the Tar Heels in the 58th minute.
Carolina controlled possession after the goal until West Virginia mounted a late charge in the dying minutes. The Mountaineers earned a free kick just beyond the midfield line and Travis Pittman sent in a free kick that carried all the way inside the six-yard box.
The free kick threatened goalkeeper Scott Goodwin who punched the ball away, but before a scramble occurred in the box the referee stopped play for offsides.
West Virginia would send in a shot from distance in the waning seconds that Goodwin corralled to put a cap on a 1-0 Carolina victory. The win improves UNC to 2-0-0 on the year, while West Virginia falls to 2-1-0.
Carolina will return to action Sunday night at 7 p.m. when it hosts Boston University in the second leg of the Carolina Nike Classic.