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UNC Soccer Stocks Increasing

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.

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Men’s Poll – Click to enlarge

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.

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Women’s Poll – Click to enlarge

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/

Anson Dorrance, Tar Heels ‘Defending the Legacy’ in 2014

The tenth-ranked North Carolina women’s soccer team, 3-2-1 on the season, still has a ways to go to climb to the national championship-winning level head coach Anson Dorrance is so accustomed to. But no matter the year, the end goal remains the same for the Tar Heels.

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“We’re starting to get honed. We’re starting to figure things out. A lot of the young kids we’re playing are starting to get it together. I know where we can be. I don’t think this will be a finished product even by NCAA Tournament time, but we’re going to be a handful,” Coach Dorrance says.

The freshman and sophomore-laden Tar Heel roster has had to grow up quick with a schedule that is as usual, brutally tough with ranked foe after ranked foe lining up hungry to take down the most storied program in women’s college soccer.

Carolina huddles up (UNC Athletics)

Carolina huddles up (UNC Athletics)

Coach Dorrance has talked about ‘defending the legacy’, and that’s exactly the pressure that faces this year’s bunch of Tar Heels.

With injuries and unexpected departures, Coach Dorrance says his squad has to overcome the obstacles and fight past them.

“We thought we were only going to lose six – the six that signed pro contracts. We didn’t expect to lose Caitlyn Ball, our starting center back. We lost her against WakeForest with a concussion. Then we lost basically my best returning player in Alexa Newfield. All of a sudden, we’re staggering through all kinds of things. […] We’re trying to ham-and-egg a unit,” Coach Dorrance says.

But there’s good news for UNC. According to Coach Dorrance, they’ve already faced, by far, their toughest competition, and in that stern test out at UCLA, the Tar Heels battled their way to a scoreless draw.

“It’s going to be hard for teams to score against us. We certainly saw that out of UCLA. That’s the best college team I have ever played against in my career – the UCLA team we played this year out at UCLA. They played wonderful soccer. But for the grace of god, they could have beaten us. We were dodging bullets,” Coach Dorrance says.

Last weekend, Carolina downed a pair of ranked opponents at the Duke Nike Classic. Coach Dorrance says he’s beginning to see the pieces come together for his team, but they’ll need to continue to progress offensively to truly contend.

Summer Green - 2013 NCAA First Round - Courtesy: Jeffrey A. Camarati

Summer Green – 2013 NCAA First Round – Courtesy: Jeffrey A. Camarati

“You could see some pieces. Jessie Scarpa is a special player. I think if we could get her into a position where she can attack for us, I think we’re going to be more of an offensive threat. I think I know where we can go. I think we can be a lot better. This was the emergence this weekend,” Coach Dorrance says.

The strong points for Carolina come from the defense and the depth. In fact, Coach Dorrance says he’s comfortable going 17 deep in his roster without much of a noticeable drop-off in play.

“Our depth is legit. We can literally go 16, 17 players deep. And there’s not that big of a difference between player 17 and player 11. They’re pretty close. You can see that when we sub. The subs basically won the game for us [vs. Arkansas]. We scored with all of our reserves on the field,” Coach Dorrance says.

The Tar Heels have some time to evaluate the season so far and shore up the offensive attack before returning to the pitch to take on ACC rival and national powerhouse Notre Dame Saturday, Sept. 20.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/anson-dorrance-tar-heels-defending-legacy-unc-wsoc-program/

Women’s Soccer: No. 17 Pepperdine Blanks No. 9 UNC, 1-0

MALIBU, CA – The ninth-ranked North Carolina women’s soccer team was shut out for the third time in four matches this season as it fell to 17th-ranked Pepperdine 1-0 Sunday afternoon at Tari Frahm Rokus Field.

Carolina traveled West for the weekend and earned a 0-0 tie at top-ranked UCLA Friday night before falling to the Waves on Sunday.

Pepperdine got the only goal it needed at the 70:03 mark of the match when Lynn Williams scored an unassisted tally, her second of the year.

That goal held up as Pepperdine outshot the Tar Heels 10-9 on the day. For the second successive game, the Tar Heels had trouble putting shots on frame. They did not have a shot on goal against the Bruins and had only one against the Waves. For UNC, starting goalkeeper Lindsey Harris made two saves and Bryane Heaberlin, who played the second half, also made two saves.

Pepperdine outshot the Tar Heels 5-2 in the first half while Carolina outshot the Waves 7-5 in the second half.

Things get no easier for Carolina as it must bounce back against a pair of talented teams next weekend when it plays Penn State at 5 p.m. Friday and Arkansas at 12 noon Sunday in the Duke Nike Classic at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.

Pepperdine improved to 4-0 on the season with the victory. The Waves have allowed only one goal in four games and recorded their third straight shutout of the campaign.

UNC starters Summer Green (forward) and Hanna Gardner (defender) missed Sunday’s game versus Pepperdine. Their status is day-to-day heading into next weekend’s contests.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/womens-soccer-17-pepperdine-blanks-9-unc-1-0/

UNC Women’s Soccer Battles No. 1 Bruins To Scoreless Tie

LOS ANGELES, CAL – In a rematch of last year’s NCAA quarterfinals, ninth-ranked North Carolina and top-ranked UCLA fought for 110 minutes Friday night at Drake Stadium, but neither team was able to dent the scoreboard as the match ended in a 0-0 tie in collegiate women’s soccer action.

UNC is now 1-1-1 on the season after playing its second overtime match against a Pac 12 Conference foe in the first three games of the season. The defending NCAA champion Bruins are now 2-0-1. The two teams had met last November 30 in the NCAA quarterfinals at Fetzer Field with the Bruins prevailing 1-0 in double overtime en route to winning their first national championship.

Friday’s game was the 11th in history between the two teams and Carolina now leads the all-time series 9-1-1.

Not unexpectedly, the game was a defensive-oriented encounter. UCLA ended with a 12-4 edge in shots and a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks. In its opening two games, UCLA had beaten Maryland and UC-Irvine by 3-0 scores, while outshooting its two opponents 44-1. None of UNC’s four shots were on frame, only the second time that has happened to UNC’s offense in history, and UCLA has not conceded a shot on goal in three games this year.

The game was only the 11th scoreless tie in Carolina’s history, the last being a 0-0 stalemate between Florida and Carolina at Fetzer Field on August 24, 2012.

The Bruins outshot the Tar Heels 6-0 in the opening half of play but junior goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin kept the Bruins off the scoreboard with five saves in the opening 45 minutes. Those five saves set a career high for Heaberlin. She had four saves in Carolina’s 1-0 victory at Boston College on October 13, 2013.

Lindsey Harris came on in the second half in the goal for UNC and she made one save as the Bruins outshot Carolina 6-4 in the second half and overtime. Harris made a spectacular save on a shot by Sam Mewis in the 64th minute of play. Carolina’s best chance to score in the second half came on a hard shot by Summer Green in the 81st minute that went high.

Carolina had one shot in the first overtime and UCLA had two shots in the second overtime. Four minutes into the second overtime, Megan Oyster had a dangerous shot from distance for the Bruins but it skipped wide. The Bruins had one more shot in the waning seconds but it went high and the game ended at 0-0.

UNC will continue its West Coast trip on Sunday when it plays at #17 Pepperdine at 1 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. EDT). The Waves are 3-0 this season after routing Florida Atlantic 4-0 Friday night.

Box Score

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-womens-soccer-battles-1-bruins-scoreless-tie/

UNC Women’s Soccer Faces Unbeaten UCLA

UNC’s women’s soccer heads west for the weekend to battle No. 1 ranked UCLA Friday in Los Angeles.

UNC pulled out a 1-0 win over unranked Ohio State in the final game of the Carolina Nike Classic in Chapel Hill. Freshman forward Megan Buckingham led the Heels to victory with a goal in the 73rd minute of play.

The Bruins, however, have yet to falter, starting their season with 3-0 wins at home over both Maryland and UC Irvine.

After dropping to No. 9 in the NSCAA’s coaches’ poll following a season opener loss, the Tar Heels have will have a chance to redeem themselves if they can manage a victory over the Bruins.

The Heels also have a game scheduled on Sunday against Pepperdine in Malibu. You can watch the UCLA game broadcasted on the Pac 12 Network.

http://chapelboro.com/unc-womens-soccer-2/unc-womens-soccer-faces-unbeaten-ucla/

UNC Soccer Teams Embark on Busy Weekends

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.

***Listen to the story***

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.

Anson Dorrance (UNC Athletics)

Anson Dorrance (UNC Athletics)

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/

UNC Women’s Soccer Drops Nine Spots In Coaches’ Poll

The UNC women’s soccer team fell five spots in this week’s NSCAA coaches’ poll after dropping its season opener.

Carolina split its opening weekend in the Carolina Nike Classic with a 1-0 overtime loss to then-No. 6 Stanford and a bounce-back 1-0 win against unranked Ohio State.

Stanford, Overtime Claim UNC Women’s Soccer Season Opener
UNC Women’s Soccer Defeats Ohio State For First Win

Duke fell out of the top 25 in this week’s rankings after the 0-2 start; Stanford improved one spot to No. 5.

The Tar Heels have another tough test ahead of them this week. Carolina heads west for a two-game road trip starting against No. 1 UCLA on Friday in Los Angeles. You can see that contest on the Pac 12 Network. UNC plays Pepperdine Sunday in Malibu.

The Tar Heels will be the toughest test of the season so far for the Bruins, as they began with wins at home against Maryland and UC Irvine. UCLA tallied 3-0 victories in each contest.

In two weeks, UNC faces Penn State in the Duke Nike Classic. The Nittany Lions wowed the coaches this week making the greatest jump of any team in the polls. Penn State moved from No. 24 to No. 8 after taking down West Virginia 3-1 and a 2-0 defeat of Syracuse.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-womens-soccer-drops-nine-spots-coaches-poll/

UNC Women’s Soccer Seeks Revenge Sunday

The No. 4 UNC women’s soccer team started its season with a loss in overtime and seeks revenge Sunday against unranked Ohio State in the final game of the Carolina Nike Classic.

The Tar Heels fell in the 100th minute after leading the entire match in shots and shots on goal, but they weren’t able to connect. The Buckeyes also pulled off the upset with a rebounding goal midway through the second frame.

Carolina’s defense was strong in the first half, only forcing junior goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin to make one save in the first half. The lone golden goal came against redshirt sophomore Lindsay Harris in overtime after she connected on three saves previously in the contest.

Sunday’s matchup is scheduled to kick off at 2:00 p.m. at Fetzer Field after the Duke/Stanford matchup. You can listen to the UNC/Ohio State matchup live on WCHL beginning at 2:00 p.m.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-womens-soccer-seeks-revenge-sunday/

Stanford, Overtime Claim UNC Women’s Soccer Season Opener

The No. 4 UNC women’s soccer team dropped its season opener to No. 6 Stanford, but no regulation outcome was going to come between the two squads.

Neither team could get on the board in the first half, but the Tar Heels dominated early in shots with a 7-1 advantage, including a 5-1 nod on goal.

With five minutes left in the first period, UNC freshman midfielder Annie Kingman nearly broke the tie with a shot on frame denied by Stanford’s sophomore goalkeeper Jane Campbell.

Head Tar Heel Anson Dorrance continued his tradition of switching goalies at halftime after junior Bryane Heaberlin made the lone save of the first half. Redshirt sophomore Lindsay Harris replaced her for the second.

The shots greatly increased for the Cardinal in the second half, but even with the added pressure, neither team could get the upper hand.

The game pushed into overtime, and in the 100th minute, Stanford’s senior forward Chioma Ubogagu snuck it past Harris for the golden-goal overtime victory.

UNC finished on top in shots with the 18-12 mark, and a 9-5 tally in shots on goal.

With the loss, Carolina begins its season with an 0-1 record. The Tar Heels return to the pitch at Fetzer Field for their second and final matchup in the Carolina Nike Classic Sunday against Ohio State at 2:00 p.m., and you can hear it live on WCHL.

Stanford takes on Duke in the 12:00 noon meeting.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/stanford-overtime-claim-unc-womens-soccer-season-opener/

UNC Soccer Kicking Into High Gear

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.

***Listen to the story***

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.

UNC men (UNC Athletics)

UNC men (UNC Athletics)

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.

Senior defender Satara Murray (UNC Athletics)

Senior defender Satara Murray (UNC Athletics)

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/