When it comes to the title of ‘Greatest Coach Ever,’ there is usually room for debate. Different eras, quality of players coached, varying degrees of parity, and so forth. There is some kind of case to be made against the frontrunners. John Wooden has the rings, but he had Alcindor and Walton, while Coach K did it in a harder era (yeah, that hurt me to say). Auerbach and Jackson have the rings, but they had the best players, while Gregg Popovich did more with less. Belichick has Brady. Joe McCarthy had, well, everyone.
But Women’s Soccer has no such debate. There isn’t even a question. You say Women’s College Soccer, and there is only one name: Anson Dorrance.
37 teams have won the National Championship. 21 of them were coached by Dorrance. 57 of Dorrance’s pupils have worn the jersey of the Women’s National team. The first Women’s World Cup was won by a U.S. side coached by Dorrance. From Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly, to Crystal Dunn and Tobin Heath, if you take a list of the greatest women’s players ever, past and present, close your eyes and point to a name, there’s good chance you’ll land on someone who played for Anson Dorrance. And when you look at the record books, you have to turn a couple of pages before you see anyone else’s name.
One record that continues to grow hit 1,000 on Sunday.
The game itself was a ho-hum, run of the mill, we’ve-seen-it-before victory over a ranked opponent. Ohio State entered the season as one of the favorites to win the Big Ten Championship. Carolina dominated from kickoff to whistle, with a 2-0 defeat that belies just how easy a win it was. The Tar Heels out-shot the Buckeyes 23-4, getting 12 shots on goal, and won 7 corners to Ohio State’s none.
The first Carolina goal came in the 37th minute on fantastic free kick from freshman midfielder Brianna Pinto. The frosh’s dead-ball strike soared over the Ohio State wall and into the upper 90. It’s only August, but that is already one of the goals of the year. The second goal came in the 58th minute on a Bridgette Andrzejewski header from point-blank range. Taylor Otto, UNC’s midfield creator sent in a fantastic ball that an uncovered Andrzejewski would have had to faceplant to miss.
When you’ve seen as much as Anson Dorrance has, an early season win over a non-conference opponent probably didn’t raise his pulse a single beat. But watching two of his players dousing him with a Gatorade bath at the final whistle reminds us that, beyond yet another season hunting yet another trophy, moments like this deserve to be appreciated nonetheless.