Soccer Showdown: #2 UNC vs. #3 UVA In ACC Semis

The North Carolina women’s soccer team, 12-2-1 on the season and 9-0-1 in ACC play, is set to begin postseason play. The Tar Heels will take on the 17-1 Virginia Cavaliers Friday night at 8 p.m. in the ACC Tournament semifinals held at UNC-G Soccer Stadium.

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This year, only the elite arrive in Greensboro for the ACC Tournament. For the first time, the field competing for the title has been narrowed down to a mere four teams, all of them in the top ten nationally, out of arguably the toughest soccer conference in the nation.

Florida State and Carolina tied for the regular season crown with 28 points, just ahead of Virginia, last year’s regular season champion. Those three squads are joined by always dangerous Notre Dame in the ACC bracket.

Anson Dorrance (UNC Athletics)

Anson Dorrance (UNC Athletics)

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance, who boasts a mind-boggling 91.7 overall career winning percentage, obviously wants to win every game, but his eyes are always fixed on the end goal at Carolina – winning a national championship.

The Tar Heels already have 22 of those trophies to their name, but Coach Dorrance knows the importance of postseason seeding to securing the hardware. With that in mind, this weekend provides an opportunity for his squad to lock up a No. 1 seed.

“I’m excited to be where we are in the ACC. This also puts us in great position for our RPI. What all of us are trying to do right now in this final stretch before the NCAA bid is to collect RPI points. If we can go in as a high seed in the NCAA Tournament, that’s going to make our route a lot easier. I think this season has put us in that position,” Coach Dorrance says.

Senior midfielder Brooke Elby says she’s thrilled to accomplish something she’s never done before at Carolina – skating through the ACC gauntlet unscathed.

“It’s a season solidifier [OT win at Syracuse]. We’re undefeated still in the regular season. That’s never happened to me in all four years. That’s one of the most exciting aspects,” Elby says.

But this year’s team is not one of Coach Dorrance’s most talented. The Tar Heels have no explosive players who can take over a game like past greats Crystal Dunn or Kealia Ohai.

In fact, Coach Dorrance says there’s little to no reduction in talent from his starters to his bench players.

“In 393 minutes, a starter hasn’t scored until today. That tells you something. Also, I’ve been saying this all season and this just confirms it – the difference between player No. 11, my last starter, and player No. 20, is nothing,” Coach Dorrance says.

Megan Buckingham is the first Tar Heel to be named ACC Freshman of the Year since Lindsay Tarpley in 2002. (UNC Athletics)

Megan Buckingham is the first Tar Heel to be named ACC Freshman of the Year since Lindsay Tarpley in 2002. (UNC Athletics)

With that said, UNC isn’t likely to run away and hide from any of its postseason competition. Instead, these Tar Heels will have to win it with their legs.

Coach Dorrance is hoping his team’s depth will wear down opponents.

“Why not invest in player 20 and invest in her legs and wear the other team out? That’s been a very effective strategy for us. I think it’s put us in this unique position. We’re not an incredibly talented first 11 roster, but we’re an amazingly deep roster. I think that’s contributed to our success this fall,” Coach Dorrance says.

The Tar Heels and Cavaliers will be meeting for the first time this season Friday night with a trip to the ACC Championship game on the line. UNC leads the all-time series with UVA 35-3-3, but UVA took the last matchup in 2013 by a 2-0 margin.

Friday night’s semifinal action will be broadcast via live streaming right here on Chapelboro.com at 8 p.m.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/soccer-showdown-2-unc-vs-3-uva-acc-semis

Weekend Game Preview

Carolina sports are in full swing this weekend with a host of games here in Chapel Hill for Tar Heel fans to enjoy.

Volleyball hosts Miami in Carmichael Arena at 6 p.m. The Tar Heels are 11-14 all-time against the Hurricanes – who are one of the ACC’s top performers with a conference record of 7-2.

Fans are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes as they cheer Carolina on to victory. There will be a trick-or-treat costume competition with the volleyball team after the match.

Men’s soccer will be taking Fetzer Field in a match against the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday at 7 p.m. This is the last regular-season match for the Heels before the ACC championships begin Wednesday, November 5.

Carolina is now ranked at No. 3 after a 6-2 victory over Georgia Southern Tuesday. Andy Craven tallied a hat trick in the match, naming the senior as the leading scorer in the ACC with 11 goals.

Women’s soccer travels to New York Sunday to face Syracuse at 1 p.m. This also marks the last regular-season match before the team makes its first appearance in the conference championships on Friday. North Carolina is ranked second in the ACC behind the Florida State Seminoles, who they share an identical 8-0-1 record with in the conference.

UNC has not lost a match since August 31st.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/weekend-game-preview

UNC to Face Pitt on Charity Weekend

North Carolina women’s soccer’s match against Pittsburgh Sunday will be Project Heels day, the club’s fourth annual clinic for players in eighth grade or younger.

Kids and soccer fanatics alike are invited to Fetzer Field to work on their soccer skills with the 2014 team, and make a contribution to UNC’s research and cancer treatment hospital, the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Center.

The Pitt Panthers are taking Fetzer Field for the first time in history Sunday against the Tar Heels, who are still unbeaten in the ACC after flushing Wake Forest Thursday in a 3-0 victory.

Pitt will be traveling to Chapel Hill with a 6-7-0 record and only two wins in the conference following a 2-0 loss to Notre Dame.

The match kicks off at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.

Don’t forget to register your kids for Project Heels here or by contacting ncwomenssoccerpinkclinic@gmail.com.

http://chapelboro.com/unc-womens-soccer-2/unc-face-pitt-charity-weekend

Soccer Hopes To Hold Unbeaten ACC Run

Almost a week after defeating fifth-ranked Virginia Tech, Carolina women’s soccer is set to face another ACC opponent, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Thursday at 7 p.m. at Fetzer Field.

North Carolina is still unbeaten in the ACC with a record of 4-0-0 and has won its last six matches, placing the Heels as the seventh best team in the nation according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Wake Forest is heading into Thursday’s match with a 1-2-1 record in the conference, tying 1-1 with the Clemson Tigers in their most recent match last Saturday.

Due to scheduling conflicts, WCHL will not be doing a local broadcast for this game.

The Heels are also preparing for their third straight home game with a match against Pittsburgh this weekend. Sunday marks the first time the Panthers have competed on Fetzer Field.

Visitors are also encouraged to attend this weekend’s 4th annual Project Heel events, which allows kids eighth grade and younger to work on their soccer skills with the women’s club. All proceeds from the event will benefit the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

http://chapelboro.com/unc-womens-soccer-2/soccer-hopes-hold-unbeaten-acc-run

Buckingham’s Goal Powers Tar Heels Past Tigers

CLEMSON – Freshman forward Megan Buckingham scored on header with 13:01 to play in the second half to lift #9 North Carolina to a 2-1 victory over #16 Clemson in women’s soccer action at Historic Riggs Field. It was an evenly played match between the two teams before a crowd of 1,853 fans.

Buckingham’s game-winner, her second of the season, came nine minutes after Clemson had tied the game on a goal by Salma Anastasio in the 68th minute. UNC had led 1-0 since the fourth minute of the game on a goal by Joanna Boyles, assisted by Summer Green.

UNC has now won four straight matches, all against Top 20 NSCAA-ranked teams, and improves to 5-2-1 on the campaign and 2-0-0 in the ACC. Both Tar Heel conference wins have come in tough road environments at Notre Dame and Clemson. The Tigers, who started the year 7-0-1, have now dropped back-to-back matches against Top 10 teams Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Clemson is 7-2-1 overall and 0-2 in the league. UNC has now won 28 of 29 matches in the all-time series against the Tigers.

The stats ended up as mirror images of each other as both teams took 11 shots, had two corner kicks and six fouls. UNC goalkeepers Bryane Heaberlin and Lindsey Harris combined for six saves, making four and two, respectively. Kailen Sheridan made three saves for the Tigers.

The Tar Heels got on the board with 41:17 left in the first half as Joanna Boyles scored her second goal of the season on a header off a corner kick by Summer Green. Cameron Castleberry dribbled with the ball deep into the right corner and earned the corner kick. Green stepped up and sent a perfect ball from the corner to Boyles who was stationed at the far post. Boyles headed the ball from three yards out and it glanced off the left post and hit the underside of the interior netting. Boyles now has three career goals, two in the last two games.

Carolina and Clemson both had six shots in the first half. UNC starting goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin made four first half saves to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard. Her best save of the half came on a shot by Tina Shakes at the 16:42 mark of the half. The Tigers also had a dangerous chance in the 39th minute when a ball bounced around the Tar Heel penalty area before a Clemson shot by Catrina Atanda was deflected into the outside left netting.

In the 52nd minute, Carolina almost doubled its lead as Joanna Boyles fed a perfect through ball to Amber Munerlyn who got behind the Clemson defense. Clemson goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan smartly came off her line to cut down the angle and kicked Munerlyn’s shot away at the 12-yard line.

Clemson tied the score at 67:28 of the match after the Tar Heels committed a foul near midfield. The ball was sent into the box where an initial shot by Savannah Coiner was deflected by the Tar Heel defense. The ball fell directly to the Tigers’ Salma Anastasio who looped a shot from 12 yards out over UNC goalkeeper Lindsey Harris, who had replaced Heaberlin at halftime.

UNC regained the lead 2-1 with 13:01 to play in the second half as freshman Megan Buckingham tallied her second goal of the season off assists by Paige Nielsen and Jewel Christian. Tar Heel freshman forward Christian tracked down a pass deep in the left corner of the pitch, kept the ball alive and fed Nielsen on the left side of the penalty area. Nielsen settled the ball, shifted to her left foot and sent a nifty cross to Buckingham who headed her shot from the six-yard line into the lower left corner of the goal.

The Tar Heels held off the Tigers over the last 13 minutes of play to emerge with the victory, Carolina’s fourth in a row after a 1-2-1 start.

UNC returns to action again on Sunday when it plays at local rival NC State at 1 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN3.

Box Score

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/buckinghams-goal-powers-tar-heels-past-tigers

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.

140916nscaa_women

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