VILLANOVA, PA. - The Tar Heels spent Thursday in the Philadelphia area preparing for Friday's NCAA semifinal vs. Northwestern. The two teams will take the draw at 5 p.m. for a chance to win the national title. The game will mark the fourth NCAA Tournament meeting between the Tar Heels and Wildcats in the last five seasons.
"The vibe on the team is very good, we're very focused," head coach Jenny Levy said on Thursday after her team's walkthrough practice at Villanova Stadium. "We're not too jumpy or too goofy, we're up here for business and looking forward to the game Friday night. We've been keeping it pretty simple, getting into our game plan offensively and defensively. We're pretty much trying to keep things consistent with how they've been all year."
Former Northwestern All-America Katrina Dowd is in her first season as first assistant coach at Carolina, joining Levy's staff last summer after spending the 2012 season as an assistant at Syracuse. Dowd won NCAA titles with the Wildcats in 2007, 2008 and 2009. A native of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., Dowd was a two-time first-team IWLCA All-America at Northwestern (2009, 2010) and has been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2008.
This will be a special weekend in the Philadelphia area for the family of senior midfielder Kara Cannizzaro, who will be making her third appearance in the NCAA semifinals. Her brother, Sean Cannizzaro, is a sophomore attacker for the University of Denver men's team, which will play Syracuse in the NCAA semifinals on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. Sean Cannizzaro and the Pioneers men's team beat the North Carolina men in the NCAA quarterfinals on May 19. Both Cannizzaros played at Cazenovia High School in Cazenovia, N.Y.
Carolina enters Friday's game with a record of 16-3. A win over Northwestern in the NCAA semifinals would tie the UNC school record for wins in a season at 17. UNC won 17 games in 2002 (17-3) and 2010 (17-3).