The UNC men’s and women’s soccer teams saw improvements in recent polls, although the women haven’t seen the pitch competitively in ten days.
The NSCAA coaches agreed with College Soccer News propelling the Tar Heel men to the No. 1 spot. Carolina received seven first-place votes and edged out UCLA for the top spot by just eight points. The Bruins and No. 3 Creighton Bluejays also received seven first-place votes each. The last first-place vote went to Notre Dame, which sits at No. 5.
The UNC women inched from No. 10 to No. 9 this week. The team’s last contest resulted in a win against Arkansas, 2-1 in the Duke Nike Classic on September 7. UNC still has three more days off until ACC play begins against Notre Dame Saturday in South Bend, Indiana.
UCLA, which Carolina tied with on August 29 in the Carolina Nike Classic, holds the No. 1 spot with 24 of the 25 first-place votes. Virginia Tech ranks No. 2, according to the poll, and received one top vote. The Tar Heels and Hokies meet October 3 in Chapel Hill.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-soccer-teams-stock-increasing/
WILLIAMSBURG, VA – The No. 1 UNC men’s soccer team took care of business with a 2-0 road win at William & Mary Tuesday night.
North Carolina (5-1-0) wasted no time jumping out in front by scoring on its first shot of the match to take a 1-0 lead on Tyler Engel’s second goal of the year.
Omar Holness began the scoring play with a corner kick, Andy Craven gently nudged the ball towards Engel and he deposited the ball past the Tribe keeper.
William & Mary (2-4-0) had four shots in the opening half, and its best chances came midway through the stanza. A giveaway by the Tar Heel defense allowed Jackson Eskay the opportunity to make a play, but his shot from distance rolled harmlessly into the hands of UNC keeper Brendan Moore.
Carolina’s leading scorer Andy Craven added to his season total with his fourth goal at the 29:48 mark. Rob Lovejoy sent a pass from the right flank to Craven. He held off his defender, then turned and fired a shot into the lower left corner for a 2-0 Tar Heel advantage.
Moore made three saves on the night for his fourth consecutive clean sheet. The Tar Heels have not allowed a goal the entire month of September, or the last 419:12 of game action.
UNC led 19-7 in shots and 7-3 in corner kicks against the Tribe.
Carolina jumps back into ACC play at Duke on Friday at 7:00 p.m., and you can watch it on ESPN3.
The UNC men’s soccer team surpassed the only team it has fallen to this season and now sits in the top spot in the nation, according to a recent poll.
The Bruins’ recent scoring woes helped contribute to the shift: UCLA is coming off a pair of 0-0 ties to Santa Clara and Cal Poly over the weekend.
Notre Dame held the No. 2 spot before Monday’s poll but fell to No. 4 after a 1-0 loss to Kentucky last Monday. Washington sits in the No. 3 spot, moving up two; Virginia rounds out the top five falling one spot.
The Tar Heels are back on the road and out of conference play Tuesday against William and Mary. That game can be seen on NSCAATV with the kickoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-soccer-takes-1-csn-poll/
The No. 3 Tar Heels are kicking off ACC play with a home match against Pitt Friday at 7p.m., which will be broadcasted on ESPN3.
Carolina won its match against the Panthers last season in their first year of the ACC conference. Cooper Vandermaas-Peeler scored the only goal of the game in the seventh minute to give the Heels a 1-0 victory in Pittsburgh.
This week has surely been an exciting one for the club, as senior forward Andy Craven was named the College Soccer News National Player of the Week Monday and sophomore midfielder Omar Holness played in his debut game for the Jamaican Men’s National Team in a 3-1 loss to Canada Tuesday.
Friday’s match is Kids Club Day at Fetzer as well as “Family Friday”, which features a special for four tickets for only $10. The Tar Heels will be available to sign autographs on the track after the match.
UNC will play its next four games on the road, beginning with a match against William & Mary at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. You can watch the Heels from home on NSCAATV.http://chapelboro.com/unc-mens-soccer-2/unc-kicks-acc-play-pitt-friday/
Goals from senior forwards Tyler Engel, Andy Craven and Rob Lovejoy gave No. 6 North Carolina a 3-1 victory over No. 7 California in the 2014 season opener for both clubs Friday night from Fetzer Field.
Carolina (1-0) controlled play at the onset of the game and that ultimately paid dividends when Engel finished from 15 yards in the 19th minute off a feed from Craven.
Minutes later Cal was on the cusp of an equalizer but senior All-America defender Boyd Okwuonu cleared away a ball on the goal line that was going to tie the match in the 21st minute.
Tar Heel defender Jonathan Campbell nearly made it 2-0 with a header off a corner kick, but the Bears defense stood tall to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Just three minutes later, Craven beats the Cal keeper for that two-goal advantage in the 33rd minute. Lovejoy earned the assist as he placed a nice through ball to the foot of Craven.
Cal (0-1) cut its defect in half with a goal from reserve Christian Thierjung in the 36th minute. That was the final tally of the opening half with Carolina taking a 2-1 lead into intermission.
UNC All-ACC keeper Brendan Moore made three brilliant saves in the first 18 minutes of the second half to keep his club on top. He pushed aside a header in the 46th minute, stopped a point-blank shot from Connor Hallisey in the 53th minute and later did the same to Stefano Bonomo in the 63rd minute.
The Tar Heels regained its composure over the final 20 minutes. Lovejoy iced the match with a blue-collar goal in the 83th minute to cap the scoring, 3-1, in favor of Carolina.
Moore was forced to come up with eight saves on the evening, while Cal’s Kevin Peach had four saves over 90 minutes.
Carolina held a 17-13 shot advantage over the Golden Bears, while Cal had seven corners to the Tar Heels five.
UNC hosts No. 1 UCLA on Sunday at 7 p.m. The Bruins earned a 3-1 victory over Wake Forest this evening.
The No. 9 UNC women’s soccer team, 1-1 on the season, heads west hoping for some revenge when it takes on top-ranked and defending national champions, the UCLA Bruins, Friday night at 10 p.m. The Bruins knocked the Tar Heels out of the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
Meanwhile, the UNC men’s team, ranked No. 6 in the preseason, begins its regular season in Chapel Hill this weekend.
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Head coach Anson Dorrance says he’s really encouraged by the play of his talented, but young women’s squad in the opening weekend of action at the Carolina Nike Classic that saw the Tar Heels split a pair of games against top-flight competition in the form of No. 4 Stanford and Ohio State.
“I like my team. I think we’ve got some promise. Against a very experienced and talented Stanford team, I thought we were the dominant team and created a lot of chances in that game,” Coach Dorrance says.
Freshman Megan Buckingham leads the youth movement on UNC’s roster. Buckingham scored the winning goal against OSU in the second half of a thrilling 1-0 victory Sunday at Fetzer Field in front of over 2,400 fans.
Buckingham says she’s been motivated and pushed hard by the upperclassmen.
“They’re welcoming, but then they also push you to be the best that you can be. Even at practice, if you’re having a bad day, they lift you up. If you’re having a really good day, they push you harder,” Buckingham says.
One of those influential upperclassmen is junior forward Summer Green. Green says she’s liked the opportunities the Tar Heel offense is creating, but knows they’ll need to finish their shots more efficiently as the season progresses.
“I was super impressed. I was really excited for everyone. We were able to cut in, but we weren’t able to finish those crosses that were in the air. We tried to figure that out at halftime. But we kept coming at them. I was impressed with everyone that went out there and was able to create chances,” Green says.
With the Friday night showdown with UCLA looming large, Coach Dorrance says Carolina needs to play smarter on offense to take it to the next level.
“The challenge for us is to figure out a way to do smarter things in the attacking third – find seams, make near-post runs, redirect shots low as opposed to high or over the bar. That will be the sign of a mature attacking team,” Coach Dorrance says.
The UNC-UCLA women’s contest will be televised on the Pac 12 Network.
As for the men, they’ll be looking to defend home turf in the Carolina Nike Classic when they face the 25th-ranked Cal Bears and follow that up with a tough Sunday meeting with No. 2 UCLA.
After a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Wake Forest in the Tar Heels’ final exhibition match, UNC will surely be hungry to make amends this weekend.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-soccer-teams-embark-busy-weekends/
Soccer season is back, and with it, the No. 4 UNC women’s soccer team begins the 2014 season Friday night when perennial powerhouse and seventh-ranked Stanford comes to town to take on the Tar Heels in the Carolina Nike Classic at Fetzer Field.
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The No. 22 Carolina men’s team meanwhile will play its final exhibition contest of the preseason at WakeForest Saturday.
The Tar Heel men are coming off a disappointing 9-6-5 campaign in 2013 and check in at No. 22 in the preseason NSCAA Coaches rankings.
The overall team defense is the strong point for this UNC squad, and the Tar Heels will rely heavily on defender Boyd Okwuono in 2014. The senior was named to the Hermann Trophy watch list. The prestigious award goes to the nation’s premier college soccer player.
The reigning ACC Defender of the Year has anchored a Tar Heel defense that has ranked first and sixth over the last two years in goals-against-average in the nation.
Carolina’s men will put the finishing touches on their preseason preparations with a stern test over in Winston-Salem when the Tar Heels take on the No. 11 Demon Deacons Saturday night at 7 p.m.
As for the women, head coach Anson Dorrance‘s team gets its 2014 campaign started Friday night when it meets the Cardinal. That showdown will be broadcast right here on WCHL.
The UNC women finished with a 20-5 mark in 2013, but enter this season with a few holes to fill with six senior starters gone from last season but as usual, the Tar Heels have plenty of talent returning ready to step into starring roles.
Another concern for the Tar Heels came in the form of a 2-1 exhibition loss to Missouri a week ago.
Coach Dorrance says it was a frustrating experience, but there were still some positives to take away.
“I saw absolute chaos, which is certainly going to be typical in the preseason. But I saw some flashes. Me and my staff aren’t entirely disappointed,” Coach Dorrance says.
Some bright spots come in the form of production out of the freshman players. Coach Dorrance says he’s liked what he’s seen out of the newest additions to the nation’s winningest college soccer program.
“We think the freshmen are going to play. It was nice to see [Megan] Buckingham score in the first scrimmage against UNC-Wilmington. And then, to see Alex Kimball score,” Coach Dorrance says.
Despite the defeat, Coach Dorrance says he was pleased with the fight displayed by his young Tar Heels in the preseason.
“What you want to make sure your team is doing is competing. I thought in the second half we did. Missouri pressured us as we knew they would,” Coach Dorrance says.
The Tar Heels aren’t satisfied with where they’re at right now. But the subpar performance against the Tigers might have been aided by injuries and national team obligations, which have kept a couple key playmakers off the Chapel Hill fields to date.
“What we need to do is see if we can play through the lines. And obviously, we can’t yet. Maybe some of the reasons are that Hanna Gardner is out with an injury and Katie Bowen is representing New Zealand,” Coach Dorrance says.
Ultimately, however, Coach Dorrance says he expects his team to grow as the season progresses and eventually be able to challenge the best in the ACC and nation.
“We’re going to improve this season like we did last spring. I think the team we put out there eventually will be a competitive one. I’m not discouraged, I’m just a little disappointed,” Coach Dorrance says.
It’s hard to doubt the legendary coach of the Tar Heels as the first step in their annual quest for a national championship begins Friday night in Chapel Hill.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-soccer-kicking-high-gear/
For a second-straight season, North Carolina defender Boyd Okwuonu has been identified as a potential candidate for the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy as announced on Wednesday.
The reigning Atlantic Coast Conference Defender of the Year has anchored a Tar Heel defense that has ranked first and sixth, respectively, over the last two years in goals-against-average in the nation.
Okwuonu, a senior from Edmond, Okla., has been recognized already by TopDrawerSoccer.com on its preseason Best XI list.
The MAC Hermann Trophy is the most prestigious individual award in NCAA soccer presented annually to one male and one female athlete. The winners will be announced Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, at the trophy presentation banquet at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis.
Near the end of the collegiate regular season, NCAA Division I coaches that are NSCAA members will vote on their top choices and the lists will be narrowed down to the top 15 players. College soccer fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the selection process, by voting for their favorite semifinalist in November at the MAC Hermann Trophy website, managed by LockerDome.
From that pool of 30, six finalists (three men, three women) will be chosen for the award. The winners will be announced in January.
For more information about the history of the MAC Hermann Trophy and a list of past winners, visit the MAC Hermann Trophy information page at the NSCAA website.
For more information about the history of the MAC Hermann Trophy, and news and video from previous MAC Hermann presentations, visit lockerdome.com/machermanntrophy.
Carolina opens its exhibition schedule with home matches against Gardner-Webb on Friday, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m and versus the Carolina Railhawks on Monday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. The Tar Heels will also face ACC rival Wake Forest in an exhibition on Aug. 23 in Winston-Salem, N.C., at 7 p.m.
The regular season opens with a pair of powerhouse programs traveling to Chapel Hill over Labor Day weekend to take part in the annual Carolina Nike Classic. The Tar Heels will take on No. 7 California on Friday, Aug. 29 and No. 4 UCLA on Sunday, Aug. 31. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m., at Fetzer Field.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/msocs-okwuonu-tabbed-hermann-trophy-watch-list/
The University of North Carolina will host the Carolina Railhawks in an exhibition men’s soccer match on Monday, Aug. 18 at Fetzer Field beginning at 7 p.m.
The match will serve as a fundraiser for the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund. Admission is free, but donations will be collected to support the former Tar Heel captain who passed away suddenly at the age of 22 of an Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy on August 5, 2012.
The Kirk Urso Memorial Fund provides a platform to develop and support youth heart health research and programming to honor the memory of Kirk Urso.
A 2012 graduate of North Carolina, Urso led the Tar Heels to four consecutive NCAA Men’s College Cup appearances and captained the 2011 club to the national title. He was selected by the Columbus Crew in the first round (No.10 overall) of the 2012 Supplemental Draft, and appeared in six games (five starts) with one assist.
Urso was admired for his unwavering work ethic and steadfast character both on and off the field.
The Fund supports research and programming focused on congenital heart defects and sudden cardiac death in youth.
Carolina will also host Gardner-Webb in its first exhibition of the season on Friday, Aug. 15 starting at 7 p.m.
The regular season opens with a pair of powerhouse programs traveling to Chapel Hill over Labor Day weekend to take part in the annual Carolina Nike Classic. The Tar Heels will take on California on Friday, Aug. 29 and UCLA on Sunday, Aug. 31. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m., at Fetzer.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-host-railhawks-mens-soccer-exhibition/
The UNC men’s soccer program is making moves this offseason. In an effort to fortify recruiting efforts, earlier this week, the Tar Heels and head coach Carlos Somoano hired Jason O’Keefe as an assistant coach.
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O’Keefe joins the Carolina soccer team after spending the last four seasons at Saint Louis University as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
O’Keefe should provide an added boost in the recruiting department, his primary responsibility for the Tar Heels. He’s coached or recruited 32 players that have been drafted and played professionally in the United States and abroad.
O’Keefe was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Mid-Atlantic Region Assistant Coach of the Year at the conclusion of the 2012 season. He guided the Billikens to an Atlantic 10 Conference tournament title and a No. 8 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The man who began his prolific coaching career inside the ACC at Wake Forest in 2003 and graduated from Greensboro College in 1997 with a degree in history and secondary education, says he’s “honored and humbled to join an institution like North Carolina that strives for the best both academically and on the playing field.”
There’s been one consistent theme to O’Keefe throughout his career – that’s winning. In addition to his recent success at Saint Louis, he won a ACC regular season championship with the Demon Deacons in 2004 and guided the Cincinnati Bearcats to a Big East crown in 2006.
The Tar Heels kick off their 2014 campaign Aug. 29 by hosting the Carolina Nike Classic and welcoming west coast foes California and UCLA to Chapel Hill.
By all outside appearances, it looks like an impressive hire for UNC, which struggled to find the back of the net a season ago. If O’Keefe is able to attract some more offensive talent to Chapel Hill to go along with an already formidable defense, it will be a mission accomplished.