The UNC-Stanford game is the second semifinal game Friday. Penn State and Florida State will meet in the opening game at 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST). The winners of the two semifinal games will meet for the national championship on Sunday, December 2 at 1 p.m. PST (4 p.m. EST).
North Carolina was the #2 seed in the lower left quadrant of the NCAA Division I Tournament bracket and advanced to the semifinals by beating the BYU Cougars in the NCAA quarterfinals 2-1 in double overtime in Provo, Utah. The Cougars were the #1 seed in the lower left quadrant of the NCAA bracket.
Carolina is the only non-No. 1 seed to advance to the NCAA College Cup. #1 seeds Stanford, Penn State and Florida State all made the final 4 teams.
UNC is ranked #14 in the final Soccer America poll and #13 in the final NSCAA coaches poll heading into Friday's game while Stanford finished first in the final Soccer America and NSCAA rankings. The Cardinal are 21-1-1 overall and is on a 20-match unbeaten streak heading into the game against Carolina as well as a 19-match winning streak. Stanford has not lost since August 26 when it fell 1-0 at West Virginia, its only loss of the campaign.
FRIDAY'S TELEVISION INFORMATION: North Carolina and Stanford will meet at 11 p.m. EST Friday night in an NCAA semifinal game to be televised nationally on ESPNU. The game will be simulcast on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.com.
Beth Mowins will serve as the play-by-play announcer with Stanford alumnus Julie Foudy serving as the analyst and UNC alumnus Cat (Reddick) Whitehill serving as the sideline reporter.
CAROLINA BACK TO THE COLLEGE CUP: North Carolina returns this season to the College Cup for the first time since 2009. It marks the 26th NCAA College Cup appearance for Carolina in the 31-year history of the tournament.
With a 2-1 double overtime win over BYU in last Friday's quarterfinal round, UNC improved all-time to a remarkable 26-0-1 in NCAA Tournament quarterfinal games. The only blemish came in 2005 when UNC and Florida State played to a 1-1 tie in the quarterfinals with the Seminoles advancing to the NCAA semifinals 5-4 on penalty kicks.
The win also assured the fact that the Tar Heels have never gone more than two years without making the College Cup. UNC failed to make the College Cup in back-to-back years in 2004 and 2005 and again in 2010 and 2011. The other season in which the Tar Heels fell short of the College Cup was 2007.
CAROLINA IN NCAA TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL GAMES: Carolina heads into Friday's NCAA Tournament semifinal game with an all-time record of 23-2 in semifinal contests. UNC's semifinal losses came against Notre Dame in 1995 and against Santa Clara in 2002.
DUNN, OHAI AND ELBY SPARK QUARTERFINAL WIN: UNC advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals by beating second-ranked BYU last Friday 2-1 in double overtime in the NCAA quarterfinals. Crystal Dunn scored both goals for the Tar Heels, in the fourth and 107th minutes, with Kealia Ohai assisting on both goals. Sophomore Brooke Elby also made an incredible game-saving back save on a breakaway by BYU's Lindsi L. Cutshall in the first overtime period that kept the game tied at 1-1 and set up Dunn's game-winning heroics in the 107th minute.
Dunn has five goals this season, all in NCAA Tournament games - one each against Radford, Illinois and Baylor and two against BYU.
TAR HEELS MAKING A HABIT OF ENDING LONG WINNING STREAKS: In the first four rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels have eliminated a trio of teams which headed into the post-season amongst the hottest teams in the country. They will get another chance to do something similar when they meet Stanford in the NCAA semifinals.
In the NCAA first round, UNC met Radford, winning 2-0. The Highlanders came into that match on a 17-game unbeaten string (13-0-4) and had not lost since a 1-0 setback at East Tennessee State on August 26, 2012.
In the NCAA third round, UNC faced Baylor, advancing 4-2 on penalty kicks after playing to a 1-1 double overtime tie. The Bears came into that match on a 20-game unbeaten string (16-0-4) and had not lost since a 2-1 setback at Long Beach State on August 26, 2012.
In the NCAA quarterfinals, UNC matched up against BYU, winning 2-1 in double overtime. The Cougars came into that match on a 21-game unbeaten string (19-0-2) and had not lost since a 1-0 setback at Utah on August 25, 2012 (BYU can't play Sunday games so that match was on a Saturday).
In the NCAA semifinals, UNC will meet up with Stanford. The Cardinal comes into this match on a 20-game unbeaten string (19-0-1). Stanford has not lost since a 1-0 setback at West Virginia on August 26, 2012.
TAR HEELS END OVERTIME HEX: When UNC defeated BYU 2-1 in double overtime in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals on November 23, it notched its first overtime win since August 26, 2011 when the Tar Heels beat Notre Dame 2-1 in overtime at Fetzer Field.
In the nine overtime games since the win over Notre Dame, UNC had gone 0-4-5. UNC was 0-4-2 in its last six overtime games of 2011 and 0-0-3 in its first three overtime games of 2012.
Carolina's four overtime losses in 2011 were all the more remarkable for the fact the Tar Heels lost only six overtime games in their 32 pervious years of program history (1979-2010).
CAROLINA'S BALANCED SCORING: The 2012 UNC team is not one of the highest scoring teams in UNC history, but it is one of the most balanced scoring teams. Carolina's 50 goals are the second lowest total in Tar Heel history (44 in 2011).
Summer Green is UNC's leading scorer with 21 points but seven Tar Heels have between 12 and 21 points on this team. Amber Brooks has 20, Kealia Ohai 19, Maria Lubrano 18, Ranee Premji 15, Crystal Dunn 13 and Alyssa Rich 12. Four Tar Heels - Green, Brooks, Ohai and Lubrano - have seven goals each and six have at least five assists, led by Premji with nine.
A RARE PENALTY KICK WIN FOR THE TAR HEELS: When North Carolina advanced past Baylor in the NCAA Tournament third round, it marked the first time in history that Carolina had won a penalty kick shootout in NCAA Tournament play and only the second time the Tar Heels had advanced on penalty kicks in any setting.
After playing to a 1-1 overtime tie with Baylor on November 18, UNC prevailed 4-2 on penalty kicks. Successful penalty takers for UNC included Maria Lubrano, Alyssa Rich, Kelly McFarlane and Katie Bowen.
UNC had lost two previous NCAA Tournament shootouts. The Heels fell to Florida State 5-4 in the 2005 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals and 5-4 to UCF in the 2011 NCAA Tournament third round.
The Tar Heels had also been in four ACC Tournament penalty kick shooutouts, going 1-3. UNC lost in the ACC finals on penalty kicks against NC State in 1988 and against Virginia in 2004. In ACC Tournament semifinal games, UNC prevailed on penalty kicks against Virginia in 2007 while falling to Wake Forest in 2010.
ANOTHER NCAA BID: When Carolina made the 2012 NCAA Tournament field it marked 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.
UNC has advanced to the Round of 16 or beyond in every NCAA Tournament ever played. Each of the previous two years, however, it was the third round game that had tripped UNC up. Carolina fell to Notre Dame in 2010 and to UCF in 2011. Carolina's last quarterfinals appearance was in 2009 against Wake Forest. The Tar Heels beat the Demon Deacons 5-2 and advanced to the College Cup.
Carolina's game last Friday at BYU marked the 27th time in school history that the Tar Heels had played in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals. It was UNC's first-ever road game in the Round of 8 in NCAA history. The Tar Heels had played all 26 previous quarterfinal games in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels had been a top four seed on all of those occasions except 2000 when Carolina was a No. 5 seed. But fourth-seeded Nebraska was upset in the third round that year by UConn, allowing that Tar Heel team also host an NCAA quarterfinal.
Prior to the game at BYU, UNC had last played a true road game in the NCAA Tournament in the 1996 NCAA semifinals when it won 2-1 at Santa Clara.
NINE GOALS VERUS ILLINOIS: Carolina exploded for nine goals in its second round NCAA Tournament victory over Illinois on November 16. The nine goals were the most scored in a game by UNC since it defeated Guilford 9-0 on September 6, 2002. The last time UNC had scored nine goals against an NCAA Division I opponent was September 21, 2001 in a 9-0 win over Georgia. The nine goals scored by Carolina matched its high scoring output in an NCAA Tournament game. The last time UNC had scored nine goals in an NCAA game was November 21, 1996 in a 9-0 win over Florida in the quarterfinals. The nine goals were one short of the NCAA Tournament record of 10 set by Texas A&M against Texas State in 2004.
UNC's NCAA TOURNAMENT RECORD: Carolina has an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 113-8-3. 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 31 tournaments.
UNC VERUS STANFORD: Carolina is 8-0-3 all-time against Stanford. The two teams have played once previously in the NCAA Tournament with the Tar Heels upsetting top-ranked Stanford 1-0 in the championship game of the 2009 NCAA Tournament in College Station, Texas.
The last meeting came between the two teams came on August 27, 2010 when the squads played to a 2-2 double overtime tie at the Nike Carolina Classic at Fetzer Field. Stanford twice led that game by a single goal before the Tar Heels rallied twice to earn the draw.
FINAL REGULAR SEASON RANKINGS FOR THE TAR HEELS: UNC was ranked 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 21-game schedule has 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 #4 BYU, #5 Florida State, #8 Florida, #9 Baylor, #13 Marquette, #14 Duke, #16 Wake Forest, #19 Portland, #21 Notre Dame, #23 Boston College, #25 Maryland, #30 Virginia Tech, #44 Illinois and #50 Miami. UNC also played #67 San Diego, #69 Connecticut and #85 Radford.
Fourteen of UNC's 21 games so far are against teams ranked in the Top 30 of the RPI.
Stanford was ranked #1 in the final regular season RPI and will be the highest ranked RPI team to face the Tar Heels this season when the teams meet Friday.
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.).
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 during regular season play, Dunn 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 has moved to the attacking center midfield position for the Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament. She has started 15 games for the Tar Heels, playing 1,322 minutes and recording five goals and three assists.
Team co-captain Brooks has started all 21 games for UNC, playing 1,655 minutes, the third highest total on the team. She is second on the UNC team in scoring with 20 points. She is tied for the team lead in goals scored with seven and is tied for third 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 15 matches as a Tar Heel this campaign, Ohai is Carolina's third-leading scorer with 19 points. She is tied for the Carolina team lead with seven goals and also has five assists.
Green and Gardner both had spectacular freshman seasons for Coach Anson Dorrance's team. Green missed six games while playing with the U.S. U17 National Team at the World Cup in Azerbaijan. In her 15 games with UNC, she has scored seven goals and added seven assists for 21 points. She is tied for the UNC team lead in goals scored with seven and leads in points with 21.
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 20 games, all starts. She has played 1,823 total minutes, leading UNC to a 0.73 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. The national team will be named on Thursday, November 29.
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.
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.
Those three players were not the only Tar Heels to play in the 2012 U20 World Cup. Freshman midfielder Katie Bowen was a starter for the New Zealand Team.
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 that 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.
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.
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.
TAR HEELS 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.
The September 11 accolade 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 that week on the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week by senior defender Amber Brooks.
On November 19, Crystal Dunn became the first UNC player this year to be named a CS360.com Primetime Performer of the Week.
On November 26, Dunn was named the Top Drawer Soccer National Player of the Week after UNC's 2-1 NCAA quarterfinal win over BYU. She was joined on that team by sophomore midfielder Brooke Elby. Dunn scored twice against the Cougars. Elby and Dunn both had game-saving back saves in the first overtime period of the win over BYU.
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 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. Altogether, UNC has played 819 matches since 1979. They have been blanked on the scoreboard in only four percent of the games they have played in. 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 midfielder 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 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 Stanford with a record of 741-49-29 overall, a winning percentage of .922.
AVERAGE RECORD PER YEAR: UNC's average record per year in its 34 years of soccer is 21.79 wins per year, 1.44 losses per year and 0.85 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.
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.