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2017 Tar Heels fall sports preview: Soccer

Both Soccer Clubs made the College Cup in 2016, how is 2017 looking?

Anson Dorrance

Football may kick off in a couple of weeks, but the sounds of students cramming their lives into half of a dorm room also means that the entire fall sports program for UNC will be starting their seasons. Next week, we will look at field hockey and volleyball, but any preview has to start with one of the best overall soccer programs in the country.

One note about soccer: as part of the massive renovations going on in mid campus, Fetzer Field is no more and in its place a new soccer/lacrosse stadium rises. The new facility looks to be a massive upgrade befitting four programs that have all won national titles, but it takes time to build a stadium. The answer? WakeMed Park in Cary hosting at least 14 UNC games between the two programs, as well as a couple of games in Greensboro for the men. Parking and admission is free for all regular season games, so take advantage and catch the soccer clubs for free!

Women’s Soccer

2016 Results: 17-4-4, Lost in National Semifinal

Any preview of soccer has to start with the squad that helped build the US Women’s National team. Anson Dorrance returns to helm the club like he has every year since 1979.

Dorrance’s club last won an NCAA title back in 2012. Most programs would bristle at the text of that last sentence, but for UNC, four seasons without a title is a drought. 2016 didn’t seem likely to break the spell, but Dorrance took a young club all the way back to the College Cup before they fell to West Virginia. The club comes back in 2017 a lot more experienced, which they will need.

As you’ll see in the schedule below, the women’s team is hit a little harder from the loss of Fetzer, as they only have five “home” games. The schedule has the Tar Heels traveling up and down the eastern seaboard during the two-month season, facing a lot of the best clubs in the country just in their own conference.

Needless to say, by the time the NCAA’s come rolling around, this team will be road-tested. UNC checks in at number 6 in the Preseason Coach’s poll, and claim F Jessie Scarpa on Top Soccer Drawer’s Preseason Top IX overall, and fresh off playing for the US in the U20 World Cup. They also have a one of the Top IX Incoming Freshmen in England’s Lotte Wubben-Moy, also fresh off of playing for England in the U17 World Cup. One doubts it’ll be the last time either suit up for their country.

UNC is the highest ranked team in the ACC heading into the 2017 season. UVA (11), Duke (7), Clemson (12), defending ACC Champ FSU (15), and Notre Dame (18) all check in, and are all on UNC’s schedule.

UNC Women’s Schedule

  • 8/18-@ Duke, Durham, NC (Non-ACC game)
  • 8/25-@ UCF, Orlando, FL
  • 8/27-@ South Florida, Tampa, FL
  • 9/01-vs Auburn, Durham, NC (Nike Classic)
  • 9/03-vs UNCW, Durham, NC (Nike Classic)
  • 9/07-@ Penn St, State College, PA
  • 9/17-@ FSU, Tallahassee, FL (ACC)
  • 9/21-vs Clemson, Cary, NC (ACC)
  • 9/24-@ UVa, Charlottesville, VA (ACC)
  • 9/30-vs Syracuse, Cary, NC (ACC)
  • 10/5-@ Miami, Coral Gables, FL (ACC)
  • 10/8-@ Wake Forrest, Winston-Salem, NC (ACC)
  • 10/14-@ Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA (ACC)
  • 10/19-@ Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (ACC)
  • 10/22-vs. Louisville, Cary, NC (ACC)
  • 10/26-vs. Notre Dame, Cary, NC (ACC)
  • 10/29-11/5-ACC Tournament (Campus Sites, Semis/Finals Charleston, SC)
  • NCAA Tournament starts 11/11, College Cup in Orlando, FL 12/1 & 12/3

Men’s Soccer

2016 Results: 14-3-4, Lost in National Semifinal

It took a little while for the men’s IX to even begin to think about matching the lofty levels that the women’s team had reached in Chapel Hill, but since their first National Title in 2001, UNC has held one of the best soccer programs in the country. They have made every NCCA Tournament since 2008, won another title in 2011, and have made six College Cups since that time, including last season where they lost to Stanford in the Semis.

The men’s team is helmed by Carlos Somoano, coming on board in that title season of 2011, and looking to continue his streak of making the NCAA’s every season since he started. They will be dealing with the same issue as the women, having to play home games in Cary and Greensboro instead of Chapel Hill. Unlike Dorrance’s squad, Cary hosts nine games for the men, making the road a little less rough for the Tar Heels.

North Carolina has already made noise by beating nationally ranked Coastal Carolina in an exhibition matchup. They return National Freshman of the Year Cam Lindley, and he starts the year on the watch list for the Herman Trophy, seen as the top award for Collegiate Soccer.

In the Preseason Coach’s Poll, UNC is ranked 4th, but they aren’t the highest ranked ACC team. That honor goes to Wake at 2. Them, plus Clemson (5), Syracuse (8), Louisville (9), and Notre Dame (10) give the ACC six in the top ten. UVA (13) and VT (17) add to the tally, giving the ACC eight in the top 25.

Like the women’s team, the Men’s IX should be battle-tested by the time postseason play comes around.

UNC Men’s Soccer Schedule

  • 8/13-vs Coastal Carolina, Cary, NC (Exhibition, W 3-1)
  • 8/17-@ South Carolina, Columbia, SC (Exhibition)
  • 8/25-vs Providence, Cary, NC (Carolina Nike Classic)
  • 8/27-vs Rutgers, Cary, NC (Carolina Nike Classic)
  • 9/01-@ UNCW, Wilmington, NC
  • 9/04-@ UNCG, Greensboro, NC
  • 9/09-@ Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (ACC)
  • 9/13-vs William & Mary, Cary, NC
  • 9/16-vs Duke, Browns Summit, NC (ACC)
  • 9/19-vs George Washington, Cary, NC
  • 9/22-@ UVa, Charlottesville, VA (ACC)
  • 9/26-vs Winthrop, Greensboro, NC
  • 9/29-vs NC State, Cary, NC (ACC)
  • 10/3-vs James Madison, Cary, NC
  • 10/6-vs Wake Forrest, Cary, NC (ACC)
  • 10/13-@ Louisville, Louisville, KY (ACC)
  • 10/17-vs Old Dominion, Cary, NC
  • 10/22-@ Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (ACC)
  • 10/27-vs Notre Dame, Cary, NC (ACC)
  • 11/1-11/12-ACC Tournament (Prelims-Semis on campus, Championship, Charleston, SC)
  • NCAA Tournament starts 11/16, College Cup in Philadelphia, PA 12/8 & 12/10