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Tar Heels’ fall Olympic sports preview

We take a look at the upcoming seasons for the men’s and women’s soccer teams, women’s volleyball team, and women’s field hockey team.

Olympics: Features Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Many Tar Heel fans have been counting down the number of days until Carolina kicks off the football season against Georgia on September 3rd (17 days). However, a number of UNC fall Olympic teams kick off their seasons in the coming days or weeks ahead.

The Tar Heels have traditionally fielded strong Olympic teams during the fall season. Last year’s field hockey team finished as the runner-up in the National Championship. The volleyball team has been one of the top teams in the ACC the last few years. The men’s soccer team consistently fields one of the top teams in the country, and the women’s soccer team is considered one of the most successful programs of all time.

The fall teams look to build on their success from the previous year. After last year’s fall season, UNC ranked 3rd in the country in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, which awards points based upon a team’s success in their respective sports.

Women’s Soccer

In a year that saw the Tar Heels plagued by injuries, they still finished the season with a record of 15-5-1. The 2016 team is returning six starters from the previous year, including Megan Buckingham and Annie Kingman. According to TopDrawerSoccer.com, UNC is bringing in the number three ranked recruiting class to give the Heels a good mix of talent. The ACC coaches voted UNC as the 4th place team in the Preseason Coaches Poll, and they start the season ranked 9th in the country in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s preseason poll. Hopefully with the injury bug behind them and an infusion of young talent, Coach Anson Dorrance will look to get the Heels back atop the ACC and competing for a National Championship.

The team opens up the season at home on August 19th vs. UCF at 7:00.

Check out highlights from the team’s first practice thanks in part to UNC Women’s Soccer and GoHeels TV.

Men’s Soccer

Coach Carlos Somoano begins his 6th year as head coach with a UNC team that is ranked 8th in the country by the NSCAA (preseason poll). Though they are ranked 8th in the preseason poll, there are still four teams ranked ahead of them in the ACC, so there will be a lot competition throughout the conference schedule. Coach Somoano can boast as having the number one recruiting class in 2016, according to College Soccer News. Freshman Cam Lindley (who College Soccer News ranks as the number one player in the 2016 class) will help at midfield along with Drew Murphy (who transferred from UCSB). The team returns last year’s top three goal scorers (Tucker Hume, Alan Winn, and Zach Wright), and they will look to help the Heels improve on last year’s 15-2-3 record.

The team opens up the season at home on August 26th vs. Cal Poly at 7:30.

Check out highlights from the team’s first practice thanks in part to UNC Men’s Soccer and GoHeels TV.

Women’s Volleyball

The UNC Women’s Volleyball team goes in to the season with high expectations, but also with some big shoes to fill. The team has been picked by the ACC coaches to finish first in the conference this season. Coach Joe Sagula will look to get big contributions from his two preseason all-conference players, Taylor Treacy (opposite hitter) and Taylor Leath (outside hitter). The 2016 team, coming off a 17-3 ACC record from the previous year, will need to replace All-American middle blockers Paige Neuenfeldt and Victoria McPherson. Coach Sagula hopes that his #3 ranked recruiting class in 2016 (according to PrepVolleyball.com) will help fill that void in the middle for the upcoming season, and create a foundation for success in the coming years for the program.

The team opens up the season on August 26th (at 5:00) in the Penn State Classic vs. Georgia Southern.

Women’s Field Hockey

Coach Karen Shelton enters her 36th year as head coach of the women’s field hockey team at UNC. The Heels are coming off of a year in which they were runners-up in the National Championship, won the ACC Championship, and finished the season with a record of 21-3. Coach Shelton has turned the Tar Heels into one of the best women’s field hockey programs in the country, and she looks to continue that success in the upcoming year. The team has six seniors and eleven juniors returning from last year’s team, including the leading goal scorer from 2014, Emma Bozek (5th year senior). Also, the Heels will add six freshmen to the team for the upcoming season. Look for the Tar Heels to have another successful ACC season and possibly compete for another National Championship.

The team opens up the season on August 27th (at 2:00) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge vs. Michigan. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is being played in Winston Salem.

Check out highlights from the team’s first practice thanks in part to UNC Field Hockey and GoHeels TV.

Don’t forget, you can check out some of these Olympic teams throughout the fall on GoHeels TV or on the new ACC Network Extra (which plans to show over 600 live ACC events throughout the year).