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Not even UNC women’s soccer is safe in the new college landscape.

It has not been a good year for Anson Dorrance and his elite women’s soccer program, which always seemed bullet proof from changes in the sport and even to college athletics in general.

Dorrance reacted strongly to the reports that Stanford would be leaving the Pac 12 for the ACC. He issued the infamous quote that he hoped the Cardinal would “die on the vine” before having to walk it back.

Stanford has always been one of Carolina’s chief competitors in women’s soccer success on the field and in recruiting. Dorrance said he didn’t need that rivalry coming to the ACC, and he was right that it would make his job harder.

After the Tar Heels lost that heartbreaker to UCLA in the 2022 College Cup championship game, Dorrance sent a text to UNC athletic director Bubba Cunnningham calling himself a cockroach who cannot be crushed and said his team would be better the following season and even stronger in two years.

Since then, the Tar Heel women blew another lead by giving up three goals in the last 29 minutes to BYU in the 2023 NCAA quarterfinals. And the news has gotten even worse. A mass exodus of 21 players includes those who entered the transfer portal to get more playing time and the departures of star players turning professional for the money.

Since that 4-3 loss to BYU, those 21 players have left the program, reducing a roster of 33 last season to only 18 right now as Dorrance and his staff are hitting the portal themselves to restock. Hopefully, Carolina’s brand will result in signing better players than those who transferred.

Sounds incredulous, but Carolina’s streak of making the NCAA tournament for 44 straight years could be in jeopardy. Sophomore forward Ally Sentnor and freshman defender Savy King both opted to go pro early, and senior Maycee Bell is among those who have run out of eligibility.

Dorrance predicted as much right after the season, and 75 percent of his roster is gone, including 60 percent of the players responsible for goal and assist production last season. Two of the transfers were the No. 3 and No. 18 players in their recruiting class.

This is part of today’s college athletics, where brand is no longer as important as NIL deals from other schools and the lure of burgeoning pro soccer. Even programs like Carolina and Stanford are not immune. Dorrance is busy replenishing, but it is not a sure thing that he can get it done.


Featured image via UNC Women’s Soccer on Twitter

Art Chansky is a veteran journalist who has written ten books, including best-sellers “Game Changers,” “Blue Bloods,” and “The Dean’s List.” He has contributed to WCHL for decades, having made his first appearance as a student in 1971. His “Sports Notebook” commentary airs daily on the 97.9 The Hill WCHL and his “Art’s Angle” opinion column runs weekly on Chapelboro. does not charge subscription fees, and you can directly support our efforts in local journalism here. Want more of what you see on Chapelboro? Let us bring free local news and community information to you by signing up for our biweekly newsletter.