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Former UNC and USWNT star Heather O’Reilly returns to North Carolina

The NCAA, World Cup, and Olympic champion will take the pitch for the North Carolina Courage

Soccer: International Friendly Women’s Soccer-Thailand at USA Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Heather O’Reilly last played for the University of North Carolina in 2006. Now, she’ll return to the state to continue her pro career. Yesterday, it was announced she will play for the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League after being traded from the Utah Royals. As the tweet below indicates, both O’Reilly and the Courage are pretty pumped about the move.

O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished women’s soccer players to ever take the pitch. Before she even stepped foot on Fetzer Field, she helped the U.S. Women’s U-19 team win the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup — the first time the program won the competition at that level. At UNC she accumulated 59 goals and 49 assists over a four-year career. Along the way, she helped deliver NCAA titles in 2003 and 2006.

She took those winning ways to the U.S. Women’s National team, where she appeared in 231 matches (8th most all-time) before retiring from international competition in 2016.She contributed 47 goals and 55 assists over her international career. A midfielder and winger, O’Reilly was the often the backbone of a USWNT that won 3 Olympic gold medals and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Fans will remember that she was left off the 2016 Rio Olympics squad, and promptly saw the team crash out to Sweden before the medal rounds. It was their worst ever performance at the Olympics.

Now she’ll return to North Carolina, where she has lived since 2013, to try and lead the Courage to their first NSWL title. Of course, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out she also has helped now-defunct FC Kansas City win their own NSWL championship in 2015. There is a clear theme to O’Reilly’s career. She has won at every level she has ever played.

This also isn’t the first time O’Reilly has made recent news in the Triangle. Some fans will remember last year she joined a team of investors that bought the Carolina Coffee Shop, helping ensure it remained a Franklin Street mainstay. The details of that adventure can be found here.

Welcome home Heather. Good luck. Go Heels.