PORTLAND, ORE. – The 2012 University of North Carolina women's soccer team opens its campaign Friday when it plays the University of Portland Pilots at Henry A. Merlo Stadium (capacity 4,892). Game time is 7 p.m. PDT (10 p.m. EDT). Live video, live audio and live stats links will be available on the University of Portland athletics website at www.PortlandPilots.com.
Coach Anson Dorrance begins his 34th year as the Tar Heel head coach with a career record of 728-44-26. He returns a squad which features 20 letter winners and 10 starters left from the 2011 team. North Carolina finished 13-5-2 a year ago, including a 6-3-1 mark in the ACC. The Tar Heels reached the Final 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year before being eliminated by UCF 1-1 (5-4 penalty kicks).
North Carolina begins the season ranked #4 in the Soccer America poll and #8 in both the Top Drawer Soccer and NSCAA coaches' polls. The Tar Heels were picked this year to finish fourth int he Atlantic Coast Conference behind 2011 NCAA finalist Duke, Wake Forest and Florida State.
Returning starters on this trip for the Tar Heels include forward Alyssa Rich, midfielders Meg Morris, Ranee Premji, Amber Brooks and Kelly McFarlane, defenders Satara Murray, Caitlin Ball and Megan Brigman and goalkeeper Adelaide Gay. Freshmen Summer Green and Reilly Parker as well as graduate student Marina Nesic are expected to provide key strength for the Tar Heels from the get go in attacking positions.
UNC is minus four key players until mid-September as they compete for their respective nations in the 2012 U20 World Cup in Japan. That competition begins on Monday. Junior forwards Crystal Dunn and Kealia Ohai and freshman goalkeeper Bryane Hearberlin are competing for the U.S. Team at the U20s. New Zealand freshman defender Katie Bowen is competing for the Football Ferns in Japan. Bowen was the top alternate on the New Zealand Team at the Olympic in London earlier this month.
Dunn has earned preseason honors as a member of the Watch List for the 2012 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy as well as preseason All-America status from Soccer America Magazine.
Portland is coming off a 9-10-2 campaign in 2011. The Pilots earned an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament and avanced to the second round before it fell to eventual NCAA semifinalist Florida State 3-1.
North Carolina is 8-0-1 all-time against Portland. Of the nine previous meetings, four have been played in Portland and five games have been played at neutral sites. The past two meetings were both played in Portland. The two teams drew 0-0 in 2002, a season in which the Pilots went on to win their first of two national championships. In 2006, the Tar Heels won 1-0 in Portland on a goal by Casey Nogueira. The Tar Heels went on to win the national championship that season.