Fall Sports Calendar Heats Up At UNC

Fall sports season is officially in full swing on campus.

The UNC men’s soccer season gets underway Friday night as the #8 Tar Heels host Cal Poly, 7:30 pm at Fetzer Field. Carolina also hosts St. Louis on Sunday at 7:30.

Also this weekend, UNC women’s soccer is in Florida: Friday evening they’re in Fort Myers facing Florida Gulf Coast at 7 pm; then on Sunday they’re in Boca Raton, taking on Florida Atlantic at 1:00.

The Tar Heel volleyball team gets its season under way this weekend in the Penn State Classic. The Heels face Georgia Southern at 5 pm Friday, then a doubleheader on Saturday against West Virginia at 1 pm and host Penn State at 7.

And the Tar Heel field hockey team, #1 in the nation, is in Winston-Salem for the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Saturday at 2 pm, they face #10 Michigan, then they take on Iowa at 2 pm Sunday.

Of course Carolina football still has a week before its season begins, down in Atlanta against the Georgia Bulldogs. But the team got some news this week too, as seven Tar Heels have been named to the watch list for this year’s Senior Bowl. Center Lucas Crowley, tackle Jon Heck, wide receiver Mack Hollins, cornerback Des Lawrence, tailback T.J. Logan, guard Caleb Peterson, and wide receiver/punt returner Ryan Switzer are all on the list.

The Reese’s Senior Bowl will take place in Mobile, Alabama on January 28; it’s considered the nation’s premier college football all-star game.


UNC Field Hockey Ranked No. 1 in Preseason Poll

After coming up just one win short of a national title in 2015, the UNC women’s field hockey team is facing enormous expectations entering 2016.

Tuesday morning marked the release of the season’s first National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) top 25 poll–with the Tar Heels being selected No. 1 in the nation.

Although it only received 16 first place votes while No. 2 Syracuse picked up 25, UNC tallied more overall points–915 to the Orange’s 898–in order to earn the distinction of top team in America.

In fact, it was Syracuse that beat the Tar Heels in last season’s NCAA Championship Game–meaning the rivalry is sure to heat up even more this season.

Connecticut, Duke and Virginia rounded out the top five in the rankings, with another ACC rival–Wake Forest–coming in at No. 7.

Tar Heel seniors Emma Bozek and Julia Young were also each named to the Preseason All-ACC team.

They’ll play a large role in helping UNC fulfill its goals in 2015–starting this Saturday with the season opener against No. 10 Michigan in Winston Salem as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The Tar Heels will then play again on Sunday against Iowa.


UNC Field Hockey Places 5 on Academic All-ACC Team

Five UNC field hockey student-athletes have been named to the 2015 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic team, which was announced Monday.

Seniors Casey Di Nardo, Nina Notman and Emily Wold were joined by sophomore Sam Night and freshman Malin Evert representing the Tar Heels.

Wold was one of two members of the All-Academic team to make the cut for a fourth time. Di Nardo was honored for the third time in 2015. It was the first time for Evert, Night and Notman.

Notman and Wold were also named to the All-America team this season.

Duke senior Lauren Blazing was named the 2015 ACC Field Hockey Scholar-Athlete of the Year.


UNC Field Hockey Coach Named Regional Coach of the Year

UNC field hockey head coach Karen Shelton has been named the South Region Coach of the Year.

The National Field Hockey Coaches of America announced the regional selections on Wednesday.

Shelton finished up her 35th year leading the Carolina field hockey team this season.

The 2015 Tar Heel field hockey team finished 21-3 on the season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and finishing as the NCAA runner-up.

UNC made a record 32nd NCAA Tournament appearance this year and its seventh consecutive trip to the final four, according to the university.

Shelton accumulated her 600th coaching win of her career on October 18 of this season, becoming only the second Division I coach to cross that mark.

Other regional coaches of the year are Maryland’s Missy Meharg for the Mid-Atlantic Region, Syracuse’s Ange Bradley for the Mideast Region, Maine’s Josette Babineau for the Northeast Region and Michigan’s Marcia Pankratz for the West Region.

The National Coach of the Year will be announced on January 8.


Stroman On Sports: If God Is Not A Tar Heel

It was another good weekend for UNC athletics, as the Carolina men’s soccer, women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball teams all posted impressive wins alongside the football team’s shellacking of Illinois. Meanwhile, the national headlines were abuzz with the latest flap between NFL quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers zinged Wilson’s penchant for praising God after wins after his Packers beat Wilson’s Seahawks.

(Not in the national headlines: the ongoing WNBA playoffs. Which raises its own set of questions.)

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professor and sports analyst Deborah Stroman joined Aaron Keck on WCHL Monday to talk about these issues.


Current, Former Tar Heels Claim Gold With USA Field Hockey

Team USA – featuring five current or former Tar Heels – won gold in women’s field hockey on Friday at the Pan American Games in Toronto, beating Argentina 2-1 in the final.

That’s Team USA’s second straight Pan Am Games title; they also beat Argentina in the final in 2011.

Team USA’s roster includes rising Carolina senior Emily Wold plus former Tar Heels Jackie Briggs, Rachel Dawson, Katelyn Falgowski and Kelsey Kolojejchick. Goalkeeper Briggs was key to America’s win on Friday, making several big saves along the way.

Another former Tar Heel, Caitlin Van Sickle, was on the roster as an alternate.


Tar Heels Starring At Pan American Games

Current and former Tar Heel athletes are in the spotlight this month, competing at the Pan American Games in Toronto.

On Sunday, former UNC swimming star Chip Peterson won gold in the men’s 10-K open water race, beating out fellow USA teammate David Heron by four seconds. That’s his second gold medal at the Pan-American Games – he also won one back in 2007, when he was still a student at Carolina. Peterson is a 2010 alum; he’s currently an assistant coach at UNC.

More on Chip Peterson at GoHeels.com.

Meanwhile, field hockey competition got underway on Monday, and Team USA is loaded with Tar Heels: five in all, on a roster with only 16 players. Jackie Briggs, Rachel Dawson, Katelyn Falgowski, Kelsey Kolojejchick and Emily Wold are all on the roster, with UNC alum Caitlin Van Sickle as an alternate. The US beat Uruguay 5-0 on Monday in the first match of pool play; Falgowski and Kolojejchick both scored goals.

Check out the box score from Monday’s game.

Team USA faces Chile on Wednesday and Cuba on Friday before the knockout rounds next week.

More on Team USA at GoHeels.com.


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.


UNC Snags 3-0 Victory Over Duke, Earns Final Four Spot

UNC celebrates the 3-0 victory over the Duke. (Daily Tar Heel)

UNC celebrates 3-0 victory over Duke. (Courtesy of the Daily Tar Heel)

The top-ranked UNC field hockey team shut out No. 9 Duke 3-0 Sunday in Chapel Hill to earn a spot in the Final Four.

The Blue Devil loss ends their season with a 13-7 record. The Tar Heels improve to 19-3 overall and extend their season another game.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be going to the Final Four,” UNC coach Karen Shelton says. “I want to congratulate Duke on a great season. They are an outstanding team and I think you could see the intensity level of the game.”


(Photo courtesy of the Daily Tar Heel)

Senior Loren Shealy scored the first goal of the game on a penalty corner in the 32nd minute of play.

Junior Emma Bozek led the Tar Heels in scoring and scored her first goal in the 57th minute. Bozek’s second goal came in the 67th minute assisted by junior Emily Wold and brought UNC to their 3-0 lead over Duke.

“They’ve been setting me up for every single goal I’ve had this season and it’s all just come together really nice,” Bozek says. “I think my two goals today were because of some amazing passing combinations further down the field. It’s really nice to see that everyone’s really working hard and working together.”

Bozek’s second goal marked her team-high 15th goal of the season, more than her two previous years combined.

“I think they brought out the best in us today,” Shelton says. “I’m really proud of our Tar Heels. I thought it was a balanced team effort and led primarily by our seniors.”

UNC Field Hockey celebrate

For five of the women on the UNC field hokey team, Sunday marked the last home game of their college careers.

“To end my career at home against Duke, it’s arguably one of the greatest rivalry in all the sports and it’s just an amazing feeling. I really can’t describe it,” Shealy says. “You kind of dream about one of these games going into the Final Four.”

Top-ranked UNC will face No. 4 Syracuse Friday in an NCAA Tournament semifinal game in College Park, Md.



UNC Field Hockey Wins, Gets Duke Next In NCAAT

The No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team defeated No. 20 Liberty 2-1 Saturday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Francis E. Henry Stadium.

With the loss, Liberty finishes the season 14-8 overall. North Carolina improves to 18-3 and advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Junior midfielder Emma Bozek led the Tar Heels to score in the first seven minutes of the game deflecting a corner shot by Nina Notman.

Tar Heels huddle up! (UNC Athletics)

Tar Heels huddle up! (UNC Athletics)

The Flames worked around goalkeeper Shannon Johnson to tie the game early in the first half.

“The fact that they were able to score and tie it up put pressure on us and we had to withstand long periods of their pressure,” UNC coach Karen Shelton says.

The Tar Heels sealed the game in the 26th minute of play with a goal from Casey Di Nardo for a 2 -1 lead into halftime.

Casey Di Nardo scored the gamewinner against Liberty. (GoHeels.com)

Casey Di Nardo scored the gamewinner against Liberty. (GoHeels.com)

“We did score on two corners but we won a lot more. If we could score on more corners that we’re winning, we could have really put the game away early,” Di Nardo says.

The Tar Heels will face Duke in Chapel Hill Sunday at 2 p.m. in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“We’ve been here and played back-to-back,” says Coach Shelton. “I know we will take some confidence and fitness into tomorrow’s game.”