Tar Heels Begin Battle 4 Atlantis, Face Bulldogs

The No. 5 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 3-0 on the season, embarks on its quest for a Battle 4 Atlantis tournament title Wednesday at high noon when the Tar Heels take on the 3-0 Butler Bulldogs.

***Listen to the story***

The Tar Heels join a stacked field in what UNC head coach Roy Williams says is the premier early-season tournament this year.

Two Final Four teams from last season, Florida and Wisconsin, could stand in the way of UNC in the Bahamas.

But Coach Williams says for now, he’s focused on the feisty Bulldogs, who defeated the Tar Heels 82-71 in the Maui Invitational semifinals back in 2012.

Coach Williams reacts (Todd Melet)

Coach Williams reacts (Todd Melet)

“We’re 3-0, we’ve done some good things, and we know we’ve got to get a heck of a lot better. We’re a different team. They’re [Butler] a different team. But there are some guys that were around when they beat us by 88 points or something like that the last time we played them. I remember that. It’s a wonderful tournament. Looking at all the tournament fields, I think it’s the best field of any of the preseason tournaments. It’s a big-time challenge for us,” Coach Williams says.

Junior guard Marcus Paige says the team’s balance gives the Tar Heels an edge on the competition.

“With that type of balance and our defense as hungry, alert and aggressive as it was today [vs. Davidson], I would expect to have a bunch of guys in double figures on any given night,” Paige says.

One of those UNC players in search of a breakout season is sophomore forward Kennedy Meeks. He’s off to a promising start. Meeks tallied 19 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday’s win over Davidson.

Meeks says he’s been getting some advice from former Tar Heel and fellow big man, Sean May.

“I talk to him all the time. He tells me about having soft hands, looking at the ball all the way through, being aggressive on offense and also getting down in a defensive stance for the entire game. He’s really been a good asset to my life,” Meeks says.

Paige has noticed a major difference in the impact of Meeks and junior forward Brice Johnson, who’ve both reshaped their bodies to withstand the physicality of ACC basketball.


Brice Johnson has bulked up for this year's basketball campaign (Todd Melet)

Brice Johnson has bulked up for this year’s basketball campaign (Todd Melet)

“You can see they’re really skilled. Brice has upped his weight and is more of a physical presence. Kennedy shed his weight. They both had that skill set even last year, so now they’re able to utilize it more with more minutes and a bigger role in our offense. It’s great to have,” Paige says.

So far, Paige has been happy to take a backseat in the scoring. He says he understands the best Roy Williams teams always look to dominate inside first.

“When we have big guys as skilled and talented as them that are ready to handle the rigors of playing top-quality opponents with their bodies now we can play inside out. That’s always how Coach Williams’ best teams have played,” Paige says.

The Tar Heels will need to watch out for Bulldog Kelan Martin, who scored 23 points off the bench on 9 for 13 shooting in Butler’s most recent 80-39 thrashing of Loyola (Md.).

UNC is tied 2-2 with Butler in the all-time head-to-head series and will be hoping to tip the scales in its favor when the two schools collide at Imperial Arena Wednesday.

Roy Williams’ Stolen Vacation

Scanning his closet for the perfect Caribbean-themed floral shirt, North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams could not help but mutter under his breath. “Aw shucks,” and “gosh darn” were just a few of the obscenities mumbled by the coach as he prepared for his team’s Thanksgiving getaway to the Bahamas.

Call it a tropical vacation if you like, but the schedule makers clearly were not too concerned about Coach Williams’ personal relaxation time. The Tar Heels will play against a loaded field in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Paradise Island in Nassau. Half of last year’s Final Four (Florida, Wisconsin) plus four other teams that were in the NCAA tournament (including the Heels) will slug it out for the right to be called champions of Atlantis.

In order to rule a kingdom that sits entirely underwater, you would need a lot of power. Luckily for UNC, they have had plenty of power down on the low blocks three games in. Statistics have them as the 4th most prolific rebounding team in the country, with close to fifty a game. Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson have materialized as an awesome tag team in the post, as the team’s two leading scorers and rebounders thus far (Meeks- 16.7 points, 11 boards, Johnson- 14.7 points, 7.7 boards). Each is also shooting above sixty percent for the young season.

Battle 4 Atlantis bracket

The big men will be critical in an opening round matchup against perennial over-achievers Butler. The Bulldogs, known for their scrappy team defense and shooting, will come out firing, but it will be essential for Carolina to exploit their massive size advantage early. To give this matchup a visual perspective, Meeks at 6’9”, 270 pounds, will likely be defended by their senior forward, Kameron Woods, who stands the same 6’9” but carries a meager 200 pounds. Meeks should be able to feast on Woods and lead the Tar Heels into their Thanksgiving game on a high note.

With an opening win, Turkey Day could have UNC facing off against the winner of 22nd ranked UCLA and Oklahoma, each a tournament team a year ago. The Sooners have started off slowly, already taking a loss in their second game of the season to Creighton. The Bruins, on the other hand, are breaking scoreboards with an offense that boasts two twenty-point scorers (Norman Powell, Bryce Alford) and arrives in Nassau 5th in the country with 95.3 points per game.

Should the Heels face off with UCLA, point guard Marcus Paige’s shots are going to have to start falling at a rate higher than 38 percent, especially if the game turns into the fast-paced track meet many expect. Key contributions from freshman wing Justin Jackson may also be an X-factor in this potential matchup. Not only has Jackson shown he can score efficiently (13.3 PPG, 63% shooting), but his rangy 6’8” wingspan could give the 6’4” Powell and 6’3” Alford some trouble defensively as well.

Justin Jackson (Charlotte Observer)

Justin Jackson (Charlotte Observer)

On the other half of the bracket, 18th ranked Florida takes on Georgetown in what could be a tough game for the Gators, who will potentially be missing two key starters due to injury. The other quarterfinal features the Badgers and their senior All-American forward, Frank Kaminsky, rolling through UAB and a short-handed Florida team, straight to the title game for what could be a battle of epic proportions with the Tar Heels.

Of all the teams in the bracket, the Wisconsin Badgers were surely the squad that caught ol’ Roy’s attention the most. Coach Williams works long and hard; you can’t blame the man if he wants to enjoy a nice vacation at a place called “Paradise Island.” The problem is that Wisconsin makes that impossible. There is no paradise to be found when trying to game plan for a Badger team that is blowing teams out with ruthless efficiency, shooting over fifty-two percent AS A TEAM, validating last year’s final four march.

Led by Kaminsky, the seven-foot Player of the Year candidate, Wisconsin is off to a 4-0 start with the closest of those games being a twenty-four point nail-biter against Boise State. The Heels will have to find a way to guard the big man, who can star inside or outside depending on how he feels. If he sees Brice Johnson, he may try to use his height inside. If it’s Kennedy Meeks on Kaminsky, look for Frank to take the slower Meeks out on the perimeter, where he shoots the three ball at forty-three percent.

Wisconsin All-American Frank Kaminsky (Milwaukee Sentinal-Journal)

Wisconsin All-American Frank Kaminsky (Milwaukee Sentinal-Journal)

If Carolina can continue to rebound and share the ball like they have to start the season, there is a real chance for them to be crowned Kings of Atlantis, but it cannot be overstated how tough the road is ahead of them. Call this tournament a measuring stick, because it will be the first chance against elite quality competition for this team to show its growth.

Winning in the Bahamas would prove to doubters that this squad does indeed have enough talent to compete for a national championship. Losing would not be the end of the world. Just don’t be surprised if Roy ends up in his famous squatted position, screaming like crazy, and pulling a few hairs out along the way.

Fun Fact: The games are being played at the Imperial Arena, a grand ballroom normally used for weddings and events. A temporary court and seats are put into place just for this tournament.

Fedora, Tar Heels Look To Send Seniors Out On Top

The 6-5 UNC football team follows up an emotional Thursday night win over Duke with another big-time rivalry game this Saturday to finish out the regular season. UNC head coach Larry Fedora, as always, is quick to remind his team that it’s N.C. State week.

***Listen to the story***

Carolina’s postgame spray-painting celebrations last week caused significant damage to the Duke locker rooms and practice facilities. UNC will be footing the bill for at least $10,000 worth of repairs.

Coach Fedora says he gave Duke head coach David Cutcliffe a call Friday morning to offer an apology.

“I was made aware of it on Friday and called David [Cutcliffe] to apologize. Obviously, the celebration got out of hand. I wish it wouldn’t have, but it did,” Coach Fedora says.

UNC players wasted no time painting the Victory Bell. (Elliott Rubin)

UNC players wasted no time painting the Victory Bell. (Elliott Rubin)

But for now, the Victory Bell chimes have grown quiet. The Tar Heels have turned their attention to another in-state foe – the Wolfpack of N.C. State.

UNC will be striving to make it three straight victories over its rival in red Saturday afternoon inside Kenan Stadium and remarkably, given the 2-4 start, be playing to finish with a 7-5 regular season record.

Yet again, much like last season, the Tar Heels have turned the corner and saved their best stuff for the second half of the season.

Coach Fedora credits the coaching staff and the leadership of the seniors for keeping the team together during the four-game losing streak.

“A lot like last year, I think our coaching staff did a tremendous job of keeping these guys together. There was never any finger pointing or any guys blaming anybody. Our seniors did a really good job of staying together and keeping our team together. Basically, we just kept playing and eventually started making some plays,” Coach Fedora says.

What specific unit does the Carolina skipper attribute this year’s turnaround to? He says it all starts and ends with the play of the big guys up front.

“We’re much better up front on the offensive line than we were at the beginning of the year. When we’ve had our five healthy guys out there, we’ve moved the ball pretty consistently. I think our D-line is also growing up and starting to play better. If we can continue that way, we’ll be a really good football team,” Coach Fedora says.

The junior leader of the young offensive line, Landon Turner, has largely been overlooked, but has been a sturdy anchor for the Tar Heels all season. Coach Fedora says Turner’s consistency and impactful leadership abilities have not been lost on him.

The Tar Heels bagged a road win at Carter-Finley last season (Elliott Rubin)

The Tar Heels bagged a road win at Carter-Finley last season (Elliott Rubin)

“Landon Turner is the leader of that group. He’s been the most consistent all the way through and since he’s got back from injury, he’s got better and better every week. […] He moves people at will,” Coach Fedora says.

As has grown custom for the UNC football program under the Larry Fedora regime, the football coach did a little interior designing in the UNC locker room over the weekend in preparation for N.C. State week. Red was the dominant color scheme.

Motivational tactics aside, Coach Fedora says above all, this regular season finale will be for the seniors.

“This team is excited and anxious to get back on the field, especially for this next one which will be our last home game – an opportunity for our seniors to go out in this stadium the right way. Our guys will do a great job in preparation this week and hopefully, we will do that,” Coach Fedora says.

UNC Sports Weekend Offered Up Plenty

With fall sports conducting NCAA playoffs and basketball season now in full swing, it was an eventful weekend for Tar Heel athletics. UNC athletes experienced both the thrill of victory and the bitter taste of defeat.

***Listen to the story***

The UNC men’s and women’s basketball teams have hit the road with desirable final destinations. The men are Bahamas bound, while the women are headed to Hawaii.

But the two squads made quick pit stops over the weekend. The men stopped in Charlotte to take on the sharp-shooting Davidson Wildcats Saturday inside Time Warner Cable Arena.

Meeks slamming it down (Todd Melet)

Meeks slamming it down (Todd Melet)

The sixth-ranked Tar Heels used an in-form defense to cool the Wildcats off and emerge with a comfortable 90-72 win to improve to 3-0 on the young season.

UNC head coach Roy Williams says he was pleased with his team’s play, especially on the defensive side of the floor.

“I think we beat a very good basketball team that is a difficult matchup for us. I thought defensively, it was by far our best game of the year,” Coach Williams says.

Sophomore Kennedy Meeks was impressive, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds. But Coach Williams says Meeks is still figuring out how to play in his new slimmed-down frame.

“I think it’s a day-to-day thing. We’ve got to get his mind correct – that he does have a different body and can do certain things. He’s giving me the tired signal, then goes out there, denies the pass 45-feet from the basket and goes down and dunks,” Coach Williams says. “I’ve told him all the time to give me the tired signal when he goes back on offense, not defense. He just doesn’t realize what his body can do right now.”

As for the women, they met up with the Oregon Ducks in Eugene Sunday and after a sluggish start that may have been credited to jetlag; the Tar Heels poured it on in the second half to run away with an emphatic 76-59 triumph and up their record to 4-0.

UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell’s halftime adjustments paid off. With the three-point shots misfiring, the Hall of Fame coach made it simple for her players – just dominate inside. The Tar Heels did just that.

“Offensively, we got the ball inside. I told them at halftime that our advantage is to get the ball inside. They can’t stop us. We’re out there jacking up all these threes. They weren’t going in. Everything we did [in second half] was to get the ball inside,” Coach Hatchell says.

After the game, Coach Hatchell says she received a special compliment from one of the officials.

“We want to just keep getting and better as a team. I really love this team. They’re great kids. In fact, right at the end of the game, one of the referees said to me, ‘It’s such a privilege and honor to call for your team because not only are you skilled, but your ladies are so classy.’ That’s pretty special. The image of how they represent themselves and especially the University of North Carolina, is tremendous,” Coach Hatchell says.

Danielle Butts dives to save the ball (UNC Athletics)

Danielle Butts dives to save the ball (UNC Athletics)

But not all UNC’s teams came out on the right end of the scoreboard over the weekend. There will be no 22nd national championship this year for the Carolina women’s soccer team.

The Tar Heel women were upset 1-0 by South Carolina in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon at Fetzer Field.

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance says despite the setback, he was proud of his team’s accomplishments this season that included a share of the ACC regular season title.

“I’m proud of my senior class. We had really good leadership. If you look at our season overall, we certainly overachieved. We were conference co-champs with Florida State and a No.2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That’s pretty good for a team that was without ten starters from the previous year. But the day obviously goes to South Carolina,” Coach Dorrance says.

For the seniors, the loss was especially tough to take. Senior Satara Murray, though, says she couldn’t have asked for a better four years as a Tar Heel.

It was a disappointing day for the UNC women's soccer team (UNC Athletics)

It was a disappointing day for the UNC women’s soccer team (UNC Athletics)

“All in all, I had a fantastic year. I had fun. It was an amazing four years. I’m excited to see what the future has in store, but I love playing with this team every minute, every game. These girls fought for one another, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Credit goes to my team for making this an unforgettable and memorable four years,” Murray says.

In other action, the UNC men had better luck on the soccer pitch, defeating tenth-seeded Charlotte 2-1 in rainy conditions Sunday to survive and advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels will face the winner of the Clemson-Coastal Carolina match to be played Monday.

And last but certainly not least, the Carolina volleyball team continues to serve up a storm. This time, the No. 7 Tar Heels bagged a 3-1 win over the Louisville Cardinals Sunday afternoon in Cardinal Arena.

UNC head coach Joe Sagula’s 24-2 team will wrap up the regular season this week with a pair of home matches – a rivalry encounter against No. 21 Duke and an ACC matchup with Wake Forest.

Meeks, Defense Dominate As Tar Heels Handle Davidson

It may be early in the season, but the North Carolina men’s basketball team’s defense already has the makings of being something quite special.

It sure looked that way on Saturday afternoon as the No. 6 ranked Tar Heels handled Davidson 90-72. at Time Warner Cable Arena.

UNC improved to 3-0 by holding the Wildcats to a shade below 34 percent shooting overall and taking a double-digit lead in the first half that was never really threatened by Bob McKillop’s team, which fell to 2-1.

“I thought it was our best defensive game of the season,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams says. “I was very pleased with their effort.”

Coach Williams reacts (Todd Melet)

Coach Williams reacts (Todd Melet)

Peyton Aldridge sizzled in the early going, however, netting eight of his game-high 25 points in the first 4:15 of the contest as the ‘Cats took a 12-7 lead.

The Tar Heels then started to exert command, going on an 8-0 run punctuated by a Marcus Paige layup and Theo Hinson dunk for a 15-12 advantage.

Jordan Barham’s layup brought the Wildcats within 18-16 near the midway point of the opening half, but the Tar Heels went on a 28-16 run to take a 46-34 lead into the break.

Kennedy Meeks was the key component to the Tar Heels success, dominating down low with three layups in the stretch while the Wildcats settled for mostly outside jumpers.

Meeks had a monster game in finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals and two blocks. He was joined in double-figure scoring by Justin Jackson (18), Marcus Paige (13) and J.P. Tokoto (10).

Jackson says defense came first, despite his individual scoring outburst.

“Our biggest thing was to cover the three-point line since that was their game plan,” Jackson says. “We kept after it and didn’t pay attention to the scoreboard either.”

Aldridge had little help from his Wildcats teammates as Tyler Kalinoski dropped in 12 points but shot just 4 of 18 from the field. Fellow guard Brian Sullivan really struggled, missing all eight of his three-point attempts.

The Tar Heels maintained a double-digit lead throughout much of the second half, despite Aldridge’s terrific shooting. He drilled  a pair of consecutive treys to bring Davidson within 52-44 about five minutes into the second half.

It was all UNC from there, with a Paige three-pointer and Jackson jumper making it 61-46 with 12:16 remaining. Williams was able to draw from his reserves in the closing minutes, as 12 Tar Heels saw action.

Nate Britt, who scored five points in 14 minutes said it’s important everyone contribute for the Tar Heels to continue being successful.

“I think the most impressive thing about our team so far is how much depth we have,” Britt says. “We have a lot of people who can play a lot of different positions.”

And play those positions well too, judging by the early results. Next up for the Tar Heels comes a game against Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas starting Wednesday.

Worth Brings the Tar Heels to Victory over Buffs in Overtime

unc women's soccer

The North Carolina women’s soccer team took down Colorado 1-0 in overtime Friday night in front of a sold out stadium at Fetzer Field.

Colorado ends the season with a 14-7-1 record and UNC earns a spot in the Final 16 while improving to 14-3-2.

“Obviously we’re very excited to be advancing in the NCAA tournament,” UNC coach Anson Dorrance says. “Although the score doesn’t indicate it, I’m very proud of the way our kids played. We’re starting to move the ball quickly, we’re keeping the ball very well, we’re playing a great possession game and we’re changing the point effectively.”

Dorrance started the first 10-minute session of overtime with six reserves on the field. Carolina employed much of this strategy throughout the game with 21 Tar Heels seeing the field and all of them playing double-digit minutes.

“We have a deep roster and we have no issue playing our bench and of course they rewarded us. I think almost half the goals have been scored by reserves,” Dorrance says.

Sophomore Maya Worth scored her first career goal in the 94th minute to bring the Tar Heels to victory.

The goal transpired after Katie Bowen served the ball into the box on a corner kick. Sophomore Danae O’Halloran sent a cross into the middle of the penalty area and Worth was there to head the ball, which was deflected by a Colorado player. Worth rebounded and powered the shot with her right foot into the back of the goal.

Courtesy of Jeffrey A. Camarati

Courtesy of Jeffrey A. Camarati

“I was borderline in tears,” Worth says. “I don’t normally get nervous but I was really nervous before going into the overtime. And then after I scored I was trying to keep it together. I was trying to run to our bench to meet the rest of the team but as soon as I hit Bruder we just collapsed and everyone met us there and it was great. Wonderful feeling.”

Worth’s goal guaranteed the Tar Heels a spot in the Final 16 and marked the 120th overall NCAA Tournament victory in Carolina history.

“We weren’t really expecting much this season we were kind of looking at ourselves as underdogs but week by week we’ve improved. This past week we’ve had a fantastic week of training and it just showed tonight,” Bowen says.

UNC will play South Carolina Sunday at 1 p.m. at Fezter Field for a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals next weekend.


Men’s Soccer Moves on to NCAAT Second Round

The North Carolina men’s soccer team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championships with a 6-0 win over James Madison on Thursday night at Fetzer Field.

The Tar Heels, who move to 13-5-1 on the season, were led by Senior forward Andy Craven who had three goals and an assist in the win.  The Hat Trick, Craven’s second of the season, gives the 1st Team All-ACC selection 14 goals on the season, just one behind the national lead.

With the loss James Madison sees their season end with a record of 10-8-4.

It took nearly the entire first half for the Tar Heels to break through but when Craven did so in the 42nd minute the goals began to flow.

After taking a 1-0 lead into intermission the Tar Heels needed only 89 seconds to double their lead in the second half as Senior forward Rob Lovejoy was able to bang in a rebound from a Craven shot.

From there the Tar Heels poured it on as they outshot James Madison 24-2 for the game.

Carolina next plays in the second round against 10th seeded Charlotte on Sunday at 2p.m.

UNC Preps For Five-Game Road Stretch

The North Carolina men’s basketball team will continue rolling with its light schedule when it faces Davidson Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Tar Heels remain ranked at No. 6. According to Head Coach Roy Williams, Carolina is using this game as preparation for younger players before meeting tougher competition in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas next week.

“I’ve always said pre-conference games are supposed to get you ready for conference play,” Coach Williams says. “The quality of the opponents we have in pre-conference play this year are some of the best teams in the country.”

UNC forward Brice Johnson says this young team is still looking for their identity as the season progresses. Johnson led scorers with 23 points in Sunday’s victory over Robert Morris.

“I mean, everybody’s been playing zone lately so I can’t post up the way I really want to,” Johnson said. “Hopefully this week, (Davidson) won’t play as much zone and we’ll be able to post up and run our plays the way we want to. We’ll just be able to do the things we need to do on the offensive end instead of trying to adjust to what their defensive scheme is.”

In Carolina’s last meeting with the Wildcats in 2013, Davidson forced the Heels into overtime before UNC overcame with a 97-85 victory in Chapel Hill. Coach Williams says he does not want another close call.

“We needed to let them rest because we played Friday, practiced Saturday, played Sunday so we gave them Monday off; but Tuesday and Thursday we went pretty doggone hard. And I think we need the practice time,” Coach Williams says. “We’ve got to continue working to build a strong foundation but this week of practice was good for us.”

Tar Heels Reclaim Victory Bell, Down Duke

The North Carolina football team dashed out to a commanding 28-7 halftime lead and went on to beat rival Duke 45-20 Thursday night at Wallace Wade Stadium to improve to 6-5 on the season and in the process, gain bowl eligibility.

***Listen to the story***

With the loss, the Blue Devils dropped to 8-3 on the season and handed the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets the ACC Coastal division crown and a spot in the ACC Championship game opposite Florida State.

Marquise Williams threw for 374 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead the Tar Heel offense to a torrid start, and despite a few hiccups in the second quarter that could have broken the game open further, turned in an impressive performance that the careless Blue Devils were unable to match.

Williams back for the snap (Elliott Rubin)

Williams back for the snap (Elliott Rubin)

In an encouraging sign, for the first time this season, the Tar Heels had a running back eclipse the 100-yard mark in a game. It was T.J. Logan who earned the distinction with 117 yards and a touchdown.

“I think we finally put together a complete game in all three phases – offensively, defensively and special teams. Other than the three turnovers we had offensively, it couldn’t have been a more solid game for us,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora says.

In a surprising twist, the much-maligned Tar Heel defense rose to the occasion, coming up with big stops after the offensive miscues in the second quarter that gave Duke a chance to hang around in the game.

“It was huge. For the defense to go out there in those situations and hold them to no points after those three fumbles, that was big. And that gave a shot of adrenaline to the entire team,” Coach Fedora says.

Duke’s signal caller Anthony Boone tossed two touchdowns and threw for 262 yards, but he was sacked three times and gave away an interception.

“I don’t know if there are words that fit how you feel. I told the team after the game, I said ‘First thing I don’t want you to forget is all this winning that has led us to a Thursday night opportunity on national television playing your arch rival. Obviously it was a disaster from our standpoint,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe says.

***Listen to Larry Fedora’s postgame remarks***

On Duke’s first drive, UNC linebacker Jeff Schoettmer recovered a fumble. It got the Tar Heels rolling.

From there, the offense raced ahead. A 3-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Switzer got UNC on the scoreboard first, and then the defense pitched in again with a 10-yard fumble return for a touchdown by senior safety Tim Scott.

At the end of the first quarter, the Tar Heels had claimed a 21-7 lead over the Blue Devils. Duke got on the board with a 10-yard touchdown heave by Boone into the arms of Isaac Blakeney.

The Victory Bell (UNC Athletics)

The Victory Bell (UNC Athletics)

But that was the home team’s only score of the half to the dismay of the crowd. As for UNC, it added seven more points to its ledger thanks to a 1-yard Williams keeper into the end zone with 13:02 on the second quarter clock.

On the critical second half opening drive, the Blue Devils turned the ball over when Boone tossed an interception to MJ Stewart.

The Tar Heels took advantage immediately with an impressive offensive possession that ended with a one-yard touchdown by TJ Logan with 9:10 remaining in the third quarter.

Everything was going right for the Tar Heels. A season-long 30-yard field goal make by Thomas Moore to push the lead up to 38-7 with 6:23 in the third quarter, confirmed that. It was that kind of night.

UNC coasted from there, gliding to the rivalry win that earned  them back the coveted Victory Bell after a two-year hiatus.

Next up for the Tar Heels comes a season-ending in-state matchup with the N.C. State Wolfpack next Saturday in Chapel Hill.


No.1 UNC Takes On No. 4 Syracuse In Final Four

The top-ranked North Carolina field hockey team will make its 19th final four appearance Friday after beating No. 9 Duke Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The game winner came from senior forward Loren Shealy on a penalty corner.

Shealy says beating Duke on her home field, Francis E. Henry Stadium, was a great way to end her college career.

“I mean it’s just an amazing feeling, I really can’t describe it,” Shealy says. “It’s something you kind of dream about, like one of these games putting you into the final four. Team was awesome today and brought so much intensity, for themselves and for us, and especially for us seniors and it means the world.”


Loren Shealy UNC Athletics

But the Tar Heels won’t be playing on their home turf for their NCAA tournament semifinal game. They will face a familiar ACC foe – No. 4 Syracuse in College Park, Md.

UNC Coach Karen Shelton says the game will be evenly matched.

“We have some motivation, but they’ll have some motivation as well,” Shelton says. “I would expect an even match. They’ve got strengths and so do we.”

Coach Shelton (UNC Athletics)

Coach Shelton (UNC Athletics)

The two teams have played against each other twice this year. The Orange beat the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament, winning 3-2 in overtime, but UNC won the regular season game 3-0.

“I think that it will be the rubber match, so we beat them in the regular season and they beat us in the ACC Tournament,” Shelton says. “I think we’ll prepare a little bit better and I think that we’ll play better.”

This will be UNC’s sixth consecutive final four appearance. The six-time NCAA champions lost to Connecticut in the NCAA semifinals last year.