CHAPEL HILL - University of North Carolina director of athletics Bubba Cunningham has issued the following statement on the death this morning of Kirk Urso, a rookie midfielder for the Columbus (Ohio) Crew and a captain on the Tar Heels' 2011 men's soccer team that won the NCAA championship:
"In the very brief time I spent with Kirk it became evident that he was a natural leader. His enthusiasm was contagious to all who knew him. He had a positive and inspirational impact on his team, and many other student-athletes at Carolina. Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to Kirk's family and friends. His teammates and fellow students are devastated by the news and we will do all we can to support them and his family in this incredibly tragic and sorrowful time."
Statement from men’s soccer head coach Carlos Somoano:
"Kirk Urso was an exceptional human being who comes from an exceptional family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents, Mike and Sandy, and his brother Kyle.
While he helped us win many games and ultimately a championship on the pitch, to us he was an inspirational student, teammate, friend, leader, and our captain. He truly was a model student-athlete. Those that he touched would most certainly agree. I can sum up our feelings for Kirk by borrowing some of his words (used in the national championship post game press conference)....
If we would have had the worst of seasons, Carolina still would have loved you. You are like our brother and we will remember you for the rest of our lives."
Urso's biographical information is as follows:
Senior - 2011 Season: Graduated with a degree in economics • Team captain on UNC's national championship team • All-NCAA Tournament selection • Second team All-ACC selection • Appeared in all 26 matches with 24 starts in the midfield • Made his fourth straight NCAA College Cup appearance • Tallied three goals and seven assists • Finished his career with 15 goals and 24 assists in 90 games • Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Nominee • Distributed a pair of assists against NC State in the ACC quarterfinal win • Notched a goal and an assist in the NCAA Tournament, including an assist on the game winner against Saint Mary's.
Junior - 2010 Season: ACC Academic Scholar-Athlete Of The Year • Named All-ACC second team • Selected to the ACC All-Tournament Team • Ranked second on the team with 15 points on the year thanks to five goals and fiveassists • Twice notched game winners • The game winner against Virginia came on a short corner that bent into the goal • Also notched the game winner against Wofford when he converted a free kick in overtime to knock off the Terriers • Tallied an assist in back-to-back games in the ACC Tournament against NC State and against Boston College.
Sophomore - 2009 Season: One of five players to start in all 22 contests • Tallied four goals and a team-high six assists on the year • Scored against Drake in the NCAA Quarterfinals • Had a pair of assists in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Brown • Named to the ACC All-Academic team for the second consecutive season.
Freshman - 2008 Season : Soccer America Freshman All-America selection • Led Carolina with six assists and ranked fourth with 12 points on three goals • Scored twice in the NCAA Tournament to help lead the Tar Heels to the College Cup • Volleyed home the unassisted game-winner against No. 15 Northwestern from 15 yards out in the 61st minute in the NCAA quarterfinal • First career goal came in the tie with No. 14 UCLA on a free kick goal and earned a spot on the Deacon Fall Classic All-Tournament Team • Named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll and was named to the Dean's List in the Spring 2009 semester • Enrolled at Carolina in January 2008 and earned a spot on the Dean's List in his first semester.
Prep - Edison Academy : Graduate of the Edison Academy in Bradenton, Fla., as a member of the U.S. Under-17 National Team Residency Program • Played with the U.S. U-17 Team at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Korea and scored the game-winning goal against Belgium to send the United States to the second round • Also a member of U.S. U-15 and U-16 national teams • Named to the 2007 PARADE High School All-America squad and the 2006 NSCAA/adidas Youth All-America team • Selected to the 2006 adidas ESP Camp • Played with the Region II ODP Team since 2004 and earned an outstanding achievement award for Illinois ODP in 2005 • Played club soccer with Chicago Sockers FC for eight years and served as team captain.
Personal : Born Kirk Jon Urso • The son of Michael and Sandra Urso • Born March 6, 1990, in Downers Grove, Ill. • Has one brother.