North Carolina Tar Heels
Overall Rank: #9
Conference Rank: #5 Atlantic Coast Conference
North Carolina Team Page
The North Carolina Tar Heel women’s soccer program comes into the 2012 season in unchartered waters. The team is not being viewed as the odds on favorite to win the national championship. Does this mean the program is in a precipitous decline? Not necessarily. Under legendary coach Anson Dorrance, this team is always going to be a threat to win the national championship on an annual basis. If anything, last season proved that there is increasing parity in the sport of women’s soccer and the talent level is at a point in the ACC and nationally that on a given day, in a one game scenario, North Carolina can beat any other elite team in the country.
2011 Record: 13-5-2, 6-3-1
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Anson Dorrance
The ability to defend at a high level was a huge strength for North Carolina in 2011. In spite of losing five times, the Tar Heels limited their opponents to just 16 goals overall and just 12 during the course of the regular season. Anna Sieloff and Adelaide Gay return in goal to anchor the strong two goalkeeper rotation that coach Dorrance likes to use in his program to have consistent depth across the board on the roster and especially at the goalkeeper position. Senior Amber Brooks is the leading playmaker that returns in 2012 for North Carolina. Brooks had eight assists in 2011 and her ability to get the ball to junior forward Kealia Ohai will be a key element to the overall success of the Tar Heels. Carolina’s system is built upon being able to wear you down and overwhelm you with their pressure all over the field so the experience of Brooks is going to be very important for North Carolina in the 2012 season.
Last year, by program standards, North Carolina was not as dynamic offensively as you might expect. The Tar Heels scored 44 goals in 2011, and the key for them in this upcoming 2012 season will be to find that dynamic goal scorer to go along with Kealia Ohai, the leading returning goal scorer with six in 2011. Coach Dorrance will be looking feverishly for someone to complement Ohai especially with the graduation of Courtney Jones, who tallied eight goals and was the leading scorer for North Carolina in 2011.
The Tar Heels will hit the ground running with a cross country journey out to Portland to play the Pilots in a battle of two squads looking to reassert themselves right away amongst the nation’s elite in the opening match of the season for both teams. Other tough non-conference games include a trip to Notre Dame and battling Florida. In conference, a road trip to Charlottesville to play Virginia looms big on September 16th. The Cavaliers finally slayed the Tar Heel hex last year at Fetzer Field and North Carolina will be looking to atone for that setback in a key early season ACC road trip. The evolution of Ohai up-front, along with continued strong defensive play in conjunction with the high pressure offensive system, should position the team to be right in the mix once again for a run to the Women’s College Cup in San Diego. It won’t be easy but there is way too much of a culture of excellence for an Anson Dorrance run program to not be in the mix for a national championship. That is until the rest of the women’s college soccer world proves otherwise on the field.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament
Goals: Kealia Ohai, Junior, F, 6
Assists: Amber Brooks, Senior, MF, 8
Shots: Kealia Ohai, Junior, F, 51
Saves: Anna Sieloff, Junior, 29
Madness 2012 Women’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#6 Bryane Heaberlin
#15 Reilly Parker
#22 Indi Cowie
#31 Caroline Lindquist