CAROLINA WELCOMES ILLINOIS IN NCAA SECOND ROUND: North Carolina (11-5-2) will play host to Illinois (10-8-4) Friday in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament at Fetzer Field. Game time is 6:30 p.m. That will be the nightcap in an NCAA second round doubleheader to be hosted by UNC on Friday. The first game will feature Big 12 Conference champion Baylor (18-1-4) against Georgetown (16-3-3) at 4 p.m. The winners of the two second round games on Friday will meet in the NCAA third round Sunday at 1 p.m. The victor in that game will advance to the NCAA quarterfinals.
BUYING TICKETS: All tickets for Friday's doublehader are general admission. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students and $3 for groups of 20 or more. They are currently on sale at the Ticket Center on GoHeels.com and will also be available on game day at the Carmichael Arena Ticket Office. The ticket office will open at 3 p.m., the same time the Fetzer Field gates will open. Tickets for Friday are good for both games of the doubleheader.
THE BASICS OF THE UNC-ILLINOIS MATCHUP: The Tar Heels are the No. 2 seed in the lower left quadrant of the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket. UNC earned an at-large bid to the tournament from the ACC. Illinois is an at-large selection from the Big 10 Conference. The Fighting Illini, coached by UNC soccer legend Janet Rayfield (1979-82), reached the finals of the Big 10 Tournament before falling to Ohio State 2-1. Carolina enters Friday's match with a record of 11-5-2. Illinois is 10-8-4. The Tar Heels won their first round game by beating Radford 2-0. Illinois played its first round game in Columbia, Mo. The Fighting Illini and host Missouri battled to a 1-1 tie after double overtime. Illinois advanced in the penalty kick shootout 3-0.
WEBCASTING INFORMATION FOR FRIDAY'S GAME: UNC's game against Illinois Friday in the NCAA Tournament second round will be webcast live on GoHeelsTV. This will be a single camera feed with no announcers. A link will be available at gametime on GoHeels.com.
ANOTHER NCAA BID: This marks UNC's 31st successive bid to the NCAA Tournament. Carolina is the only team in the nation to make the tournament field all 31 years of the Tournament's existence. The Tar Heels have advanced to at least the third round in every NCAA Tournament ever played. They can keep that streak alive with a win over Illinois on Friday.
Ironically, Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield played on Carolinas' first-ever NCAA Tournament team, helping lead the Tar Heels to an NCAA title in 1982, beating UCF 2-0 in the title game in Orlando, Fla.
IN THE FIRST ROUND: North Carolina advanced to the NCAA second round by defeating Big South Conference champion Radford 2-0 in the opening round at Fetzer Field on November 10.
UNC outshot the Highlanders 29-3 and had a 13-0 edge in corner kicks. Only a spectacular performance by Radford goalkeeper Che Brown, who had a career high 11 saves, kept the margin at two goals.
UNC ended Radford's 17-match unbeaten streak and handed the Highlanders their first loss since August 26 when they fell 1-0 at East Tennessee State.
UNC went ahead on a goal by Amber Brooks in 58th minute. Brooks scored on the rebound of an initial shot by Summer Green that was blocked by the Radford defense. The goal was the first allowed by Radford in over 660 minutes.
The Tar Heels cemented the win on Crystal Dunn's first goal of the 2012 season in the 73rd minute off an assist by Alyssa Rich.
UNC's NCAA TOURNAMENT RECORD: Carolina has an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 111-8-2. The Tar Heels have won 20 of the previous 30 NCAA Tournament championships. Carolina's last title came in 2009 when it defeated Stanford 1-0 in College Station, Texas.
Carolina has lost only eight NCAA Tournament games in history and has made at least the Round of 16 in each of the previous 30 tournaments. The Tar Heels have been eliminated in the Round of 16 in each of the past two tournaments. They lost to Notre Dame at Fetzer Field 4-1 in the third round in 2010 and tied UCF in last year's third round 1-1. UCF advanced to the quarterfinals on penalty kicks 5-4.
Carolina and Illinois have faced each other once previously in NCAA Tournament play. The Tar Heels beat Illinois 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament third round on November 22, 2008 at Fetzer Field.
FINAL REGULAR SEASON RANKINGS FOR THE TAR HEELS: UNC is now 14th in the Soccer America poll and 13th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll heading into NCAA Tournament play.
SOCIAL MEDIA: You can follow match action on Twitter at @ncwomenssoccer (official feed) and @uncwomenssoccer (players feed).
Live stats for the match will also be available on GoHeels.com.
THE NCAA RPI: North Carolina finished 10th in the final RPI report from the NCAA which was issued on November 5, 2012. On paper that would indicate the Tar Heels would be worthy of a #3 seed in the tournament. Instead, Carolina was elevated to a #2 seed by the NCAA Women's Soccer Committee.
It would appear likely that the Tar Heels benefitted greatly from its strength of schedule. UNC's 17-game regular-season schedule featured a Who's Who of the top levels of the RPI. This included two games against #7 Virginia as well as single games against #5 Florida State, #8 Florida, #13 Marquette, #14 Duke, #16 Wake Forest, #19 Portland, #21 Notre Dame, #23 Boston College, #25 Maryland, #30 Virginia Tech and #50 Miami. UNC also played #67 San Diego, #69 Connecticut and #85 Radford.
Twelve of UNC's 18 games so far are against teams ranked in the Top 30 of the RPI.
The only two games played against teams outside of the RPI Top 100 came against #115 Clemson and #189 NC State.
This weekend's regional features #9 Baylor, #10 North Carolina, #31 Georgetown and #44 Illinois in the final regular season RPI.
TAR HEELS EARN MULTIPLE ACC AWARDS: North Carolina's Amber Brooks, Crystal Dunn and Kealia Ohai were named November 1 to the first-team All-ACC women's soccer team the league office announced. Dunn, a junior defender from Rockville Centre, N.Y., was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in the past three years.
Dunn was tapped as a first-team All-ACC selection for the third successive year, joining Wake Forest's Katie Stengel and Boston College's Kristen Mewis as three-time first-team honorees on this year's honor squad. Brooks (New Hope, Pa.) was named first-team All-ACC for the second straight year after being named second team in 2010 while Ohai (Draper, Utah) makes the first team for the second time (2010 and 2012) while being second team a year ago.
In addition, two UNC players were named to the 2012 ACC All-Freshman Team - forward Summer Green (Milford, Mich.) and defender Hanna Gardner (Chapel Hill, N.C.).
All 11 head coaches participated in the voting for the league's honorees. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players. Virginia's Caroline Miller was named ACC Offensive Player of the Year, Duke's Cassie Pecht was named Freshman of the Year and Florida State's Mark Krikorian was tapped as the Coach of the Year.
Dunn is the only player in league history to be named Defensive Player of the Year twice. The central defender in UNC's unique 3-4-3 formation returned to the team in mid-September after she helped lead the U.S. U20 Team to the 2012 World Cup championship in Japan, assisting on the game-winning goal versus Germany and playing every minute of the tournament on defense. Dunn started 12 games for the Tar Heels, playing 1067 minutes and recording a goal and three assists. She helped lead a Carolina defense that limited opponents this year to 0.65 goals per game.
Team co-captain Brooks has started all 18 games for UNC, playing 1,450 minutes, the third highest total on the team. She leads UNC in scoring with 20 points. She is tied for the team lead in goals scored with seven and is second on the team in assists with six. Brooks is also one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award.
Like Dunn, Ohai played on the U.S. U20 Team, which won the World Cup title in Japan on September 8, 2012. She scored the first-half goal against Germany in the U.S.'s eventual 1-0 triumph in the gold medal match. Playing in just 12 matches as a Tar Heel this campaign, Ohai is Carolina's fourth leading scorer with 14 points. She is fourth on the Carolina team with six goals and also has two assists.
Green and Gardner both had spectacular freshman seasons for Coach Anson Dorrance's team which finished the regular season 10-5-2 and 6-3-1 in the ACC. Green missed six games while playing with the U.S. U17 National Team at the World Cup in Azerbaijan. In her 12 games with UNC, she has scored seven goals and added four assists for 19 points. She is tied for the UNC team lead in goals scored with seven.
Gardner moved into the starting lineup in the team's second game against Florida after two-year starter Megan Brigman was lost to the team for the season in the season opener at Portland. Gardner has stepped up and played virtually every minute in the last 17 games, all starts. She has played 1,530 total minutes, leading UNC to a 0.65 goals against average and nine shutouts. She scored the first goal of her career in Carolina's 4-0 win at Clemson.
BROOKS NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: University of North Carolina senior midfielder Amber Brooks was named to the Capital One Academic All-District III Team for the third successive year as announced November 1 by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Brooks is now eligible for election to the national Academic All-America Team along with the other nominees from District III. In 2011, Brooks was named a second-team Academic All-America by Capital One and CoSIDA.
The District III team represents student-athletes from the states of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Voting for the All-District Team is conducted by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America in those three states.
Brooks is also one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. Fan voting for that Award is ongoing through November 19.
WORLD CHAMPIONS RETURN TO SQUAD: Three key members of the victorious USA Team at the 2012 FIFA U20 Women's World Cup returned to the Tar Heel squad on Monday, September 11, 2012 after missing the first six games of the season.
Junior forward Kealia Ohai, junior defender Crystal Dunn and freshman goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin appeared in their first game of the season with the Tar Heels on September 13 against Maryland.
In the U20 gold-medal game win over Germany by a 1-0 score on September 8, Ohai scored the only goal of the game, Dunn had the assist on the game-winning goal by her UNC teammate and Heaberlin went the entire way in goal, posting a clean sheet and making five saves.
UNC'S U20 WORLD CHAMPIONS OVER THE YEARS: Ohai, Dunn and Heaberlin continued the legacy of outstanding UNC players who have won gold medals at the FIFA U20 Women's World Cup since 2002. Carolina players have now played key roles in all three tournament championships for the USA.
In 2002, six Tar Heels were on the American roster - Lindsay Tarpley, Amy Steadman, Lori Chalupny, Heather O'Reilly, Kendall Fletcher and Ashlyn Harris. All but Steadman started in the gold medal game for the U.S. against Canada in Edmonton, Alberta. Tarpley's goal in overtime on a rebound of her own saved shot lifted the U.S. to that title 1-0.
In 2008, a pair of UNC players - Nikki Washington and Meghan Klingenberg - started on the U.S. team which beat North Korea in the championship game on December 7, 2008 in Santiago, Chile. That same day, their UNC teammates defeated Notre Dame 2-1 to win the NCAA championship, their 20th national title, in Cary, N.C. at WakeMed Soccer Park.
BROOKS NAMED A FINALIST FOR 2012 SENIOR CLASS AWARD: University of North Carolina senior midfielder Amber Brooks of New Hope, Pa. was among the ten NCAA® women's soccer student-athletes who excel both on and off the field and were selected as finalists October 17 for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate soccer.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The complete list of finalists follows this release.
Brooks is the fifth Tar Heel to be named a finalist in the six years of the existence of the award. Previous finalists from UNC were Jessica Maxwell in 2007, Yael Averbuch in 2008, Kristi Eveland in 2009 and Ali Hawkins in 2010. Hawkins won the Senior CLASS Award two years ago.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 women's candidates announced in September. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through November 19. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches' votes to determine the winner.
The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2012 NCAA Women's College Cup® championships. The Women's College Cup will take place November 30 and December 2 in San Diego.
The finalists for this year's award are Amber Brooks of North Carolina, Tara Campbell of Duke, Adrianna Franch of Oklahoma State, Tishia Jewell of UCF, Lindsi Cutshall of BYU, Aly Miller of Marquette, Mariah Nogueira of Stanford, Natalie Morris of Utah State, Mallory Schaffer of William and Mary and Colleen Williams of Dayton.
GREEN NAMED ACC, SOCCER AMERICA & TOP DRAWER SOCCER PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: North Carolina freshman forward Summer Green was named the ACC Women's Soccer Player of the Week, the Top Drawer Soccer National Player of the Week and the Soccer America National Player of the Week on September 11, 2012 following her role in wins over Marquette 4-0 and San Diego 5-0.
Green was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Duke Nike Classic following a pair of two-goal games which helped the Tar Heels defeat Marquette, 4-0, and San Diego, 5-0. The rookie from Milford, Mich., tallied two-second half goals in the rout of the Golden Eagles and scored the game-winner against the Toreros. She added the third goal in the victory over San Diego as the Tar Heels pulled away in the second half. Green leads the team with five goals and two assists.
This was her first career ACC Player of the Week nod. Green also earned national honors that week when she was named TopDrawerSoccer.com's National Player of the Week and Soccer America's National Player of the Week. Green was joined on the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week by senior defender Amber Brooks.
ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS FOR THE HEELS: At the 2012 Notre Dame adidas Invitational August 31 and September 2, freshman forward Summer Green was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player and senior defender Amber Brooks was named the Most Valuable Defensive Player. Senior midfielder Ranee Premji and sophomore defender Satara Murray joined those two Tar Heels on the All-Tournament Team.
At the Duke Nike Invitational on September 7 and 9, Green was named the tournament MVP and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Brooks, Premji and senior forward Maria Lubrano.
SHUTOUTS AT CAROLINA'S EXPENSE ARE INFREQUENT: UNC's 1-0 loss to Virginia on October 28 was only the 34th time the Tar Heels have been shut out in their history in the 812 matches played since 1979. Carolina has suffered 24 shutout losses in its history. The Tar Heels have also played 10 scoreless ties in their history.
DUNN NAMED PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA: North Carolina junior defender Crystal Dunn of Rockville Centre, N.Y., was named to the preseason All-America Team announced by Soccer America Magazine in mid-August. This was the second successive year that the Dunn was named to Soccer America's preseason team.
DUNN NAMED TO HERMANN TROPHY WATCH LIST: North Carolina junior Crystal Dunn was named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List for 2011 in early August. The marks the second straight year Dunn was named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List. She was a semifinalist for the 2010 Hermann Trophy. The Hermann Trophy is awarded annually to the national player of the year in conjunction with the Missouri Athletic Club and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
TAR HEELS TAP CO-CAPTAINS: A pair of UNC veterans with plenty of starting experience were elected by their teammates as co-captains of the 2012 Tar Heel team.
Senior forward Maria Lubrano of High Point, N.C.and senior midfielder Amber Brooks of New Hope, Pa. were elected co-captains. Brooks is in her fourth year as a starter while Lubrano earned significant starting experience in both 2009 and 2011.
Lubrano is one of the great success stories on the UNC roster as she was granted a sixth season of eligibility in 2012. Lubrano missed the entirety of the 2008 and 2010 seasons with two different season-ending injuries. She was a solid performer on the 2009 national championship team and then returned after a year off to be an impact player in 2011.
THREE TAR HEELS ON TOP DRAWER SOCCER LIST: Top Drawer Soccer Magazine has named both a preseason and midseason list of the Top 100 upperclassmen to watch in the 2012 season. UNC had three players named to the list, including the top-ranked player in senior mifielder Amber Brooks. Junior defender Crystal Dunn is the 29th-ranked player on the TDS List of Upperclassmen while junior forward Kealia Ohai was the No. 46 player on the list.
FIVE TAR HEELS ON TOP DRAWER SOCCER FRESHMAN LIST: Top Drawer Soccer Magazine recently named the list of the Top 100 freshman to watch in the 2012 season. The midseason report had five Tar Heels on it, including forward Summer Green at No. 1, midfielder Katie Bowen at No. 4, defender Hanna Gardner at No. 32, midfielder Reilly Parker at No. 72 and goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin at No. 78.
CAROLINA'S STELLAR ACC RECORD: Carolina has gone 59-13-3 in ACC regular-season matches since a 2-1 loss to Duke at Fetzer Field on October 9, 2005.
The losses were to Miami in 2007, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Miami in 2009, Boston College and Maryland in 2010, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland in 2011 and Maryland, Florida State and Wake Forest in 2012 while the ties were with Florida State in 2008, Wake Forest in 2011 and Virginia in 2012.
In an era of the greatest parity in ACC history over the past eight years, Tar Heels have still won 80.7 percent of their last 75 ACC regular season games
CAROLINA IN SEASON OPENERS: After a 1-0 loss at Portland on August 17, 2012, UNC saw a four-game winning streak in season openers come to an end after having lost two in a row in 2006 and 2007. The Tar Heels are 28-4-2 all-time in season openers with losses in 1983 (road), 2006 (road), 2007 (home) and 2012 (road) and ties in 1985 (home) and 2002 (road).
UNC IN HOME OPENERS: North Carolina has a record of 30-1-3 in home openers all-time. The only loss came to South Carolina 1-0 in 2007 and the ties were against George Mason in 1985, against Stanford in 2010 and against Florida in 2012.
THE ALL-TIME RECORD: UNC heads into its match against Illinois with a record of 739-49-28 overall, a winning percentage of .923.
AVERAGE RECORD PER YEAR: UNC's average record per year in its 34 years of soccer is 21.74 wins per year, 1.44 losses per year and 0.82 ties per year.
FIFTEEN ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAS SINCE 2005: UNC has had 15 selections for the Capital One Academic All-America first, second and third teams since 2005, including two players in 2011. Carolina also had seven women's soccer players named Academic All-Americas from 1983-2001, giving the program 22 selections since the Academic All-America program began in 1983. Following is a summary of the 15 selections from 2005-11.
- 2005 - Heather O'Reilly, second team; Lindsay Tarpley, third team.
- 2006 - Heather O'Reilly, first team (Academic All-America of the Year); Anna Rodenbough, second team; Yael Averbuch, third team.
- 2007 - Yael Averbuch, second team; Anna Rodenbough, second team.
- 2008 - Kristi Eveland, first team; Yael Averbuch, first team (Academic All-America of the Year); Anna Rodenbough, second team.
- 2009 - Kristi Eveland, first team; Whitney Engen, second team; Ashlyn Harris, second team.
- 2011 - Adelaide Gay, first team; Amber Brooks, second team.
31 TOURNAMENT BIDS IN 31 YEARS: Carolina's at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament insured that it was playing in The Big Dance for the 31st successive year.
Only North Carolina and Connecticut made the NCAA Tournament field in each of the first 26 years of tournament play. However, the Huskies did not make the tournament field in 2008 so Carolina has the distinction of being the only team to make the NCAA field in all 31 years. The Tar Heels have won 20 of the 30 NCAA titles since the tournament began in 1982.
O'REILLY AND HEATH REPEAT AS GOLD MEDALISTS: North Carolina alumnae Heather O'Reilly and Tobin Heath were officially crowned as Olympic gold medalists again as the U.S. defeated Japan 2-1 in the gold medal match August 9 before an Olympic record crowd of 80,203 fans at the Hallowed Grounds of Wembley Stadium. The U.S. has now won three gold medals in a row and four of the five tournaments since the sport was added to the Olympic docket in 1996 in Atlanta.
It was the third Olympic gold medal for O'Reilly who also was on winning teams in 2004 and 2008. Heath won her second gold medal. She was also on the winning side in Beijing.
"We were so proud to represent UNC at the Olympics," said O'Reilly. "UNC is a special place, and it was there that our passion, skills, and competitive fire grew. UNC and North Carolina as a whole has always been so supportive of women's soccer and we are happy we could bring home another gold to an already title rich community."
Robyn Gayle, a defender for the Canadian team, won a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics after the Canadians defeated France 1-0 in the bronze medal game. Gayle is a 2008 alumna of UNC.
HAMM NAMED TOP FEMALE ATHLETE OF TITLE IX ERA: North Carolina soccer legends Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly were honored by ESPNW as two of the top 40 female athletes of the Title IX era this past summer. Hamm was named the top athlete of the past 40 years by ESPNW while Lilly ranked 36th on the list of the Top 40.
ESPNW announced its choices to mark the 40th anniversary of Title IX legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Richard Nixon in 1972. Title IX is credited with opening up not only educational opportunities for women but also being the key legislation that led to the rise of women's collegiate sports.
There is no arguing that both Hamm and Lilly were key players in the growth of women's sports. Hamm, from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., and Lilly, from Wilton, Conn., both arrived at Carolina in the fall of 1989. Collectively they played key roles in the Tar Heels domination of the NCAA and ACC during their collegiate runs. Lilly played on NCAA championship teams in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992. Hamm red-shirted in 1991 and was on NCAA title-winning teams in 1989, 1990, 1992 and 1993. They both played roles on teams which posted 103-match unbeaten and 92-game winning streaks. The only loss of their Tar Heel era came at Connecticut in 1990.
COWIE WINS INTERNATIONAL FREESTYLE COMPETITION: Indi Cowie, a freshman on the University of North Carolina women's soccer team, was named the winner of the 2012 FIFA Street vs. Street World Soccer Freestyle champion sponsored by EA Sports. The highly touted freshman forward from Cary, N.C., was one of 13 recruits in Anson Dorrance's class of newcomers that begin play in August 2012.
Cowie entered the competition with the blessing of both Dorrance and assistant coach Chris Ducar, who was the primary recruiter of Cowie when she was in high school. EA Sports ran this year's competition on a global scale. Contestants entered by submitting videos on YouTube.
The online contest was open to both male and female competitors and for the first four weeks public voting helped determine who would advance to the later stages of the competition. The top eight vote getters were advanced on as well as two wild card entries chosen by the EA Sports staff. Four top European soccer players narrowed the field to four with Cowie's video making it to the finals. These players included Jack Wilshere of Arsenal, Xabi Alonso of Real Madrid, Steve Mandanda of Marseille and Bafetimbi Gomis of Lyon. Cowie was named the winner of the competition with the final judgment being made by Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona, considered by many to be the world's top soccer player.