Today we were supposed to turn the page from last week and start talking about the upcoming opponent in Football, UCF. As you no doubt have heard by now, though, Hurricane Florence had other ideas.
With that, it’s a good time to check on the other sports going on in Chapel Hill during the fall. As you read this, Volleyball, Field Hockey, and both men’s and women’s soccer have been moving their season along. Let’s use this unexpected break to see how these teams are doing.
The current residents of Carmicheal Arena have played eight games thus far this season, and are off to a bit of a rough start. Currently sitting at 3-5, the Tar Heels only have one win against a Power Five opponent, Oklahoma. Their losses include top ten teams Wisconsin and Minnesota, and they’ve traveled out to both Minneapolis and Boulder to suffer those losses.
That said, the conference season hasn’t yet begun for the Heels, and their opener on the road against Duke was postponed as a result of the storm. Instead, the Tar Heels will look to build their resume and make noise starting with Notre Dame next Friday in Chapel Hill. The hope is that the NCAA Tournament is still not out of reach, and with a season that stretches out to November, the Tar Heels have plenty of time to make noise.
Coach Karen Shelton has her team running on all cylinders as the Tar Heels have raced out to a 7-0 start on the season. Only two games have been close so far, and these results have led to Carolina being ranked number one in the country.
The squad also got to be the first team to enjoy a new building in this recent round of expansion. The former Eringhaus Field has been turned into a dedicated field hockey fit for the powerhouse program. For the first time, they won’t have the share the field with the football team, and the venue has already been selected to host a marquee event with this year’s ACC Tournament. The hope is the Tar Heels will get to hoist the title on their home field.
Like the volleyball squad, the bulk of the conference season has yet to begin. So far, the field hockey squad has only played Louisville in conference, but with so few conference members participating in the sport, every week will see the squad alternate between a conference and non-conference opponent. It will be a challenging schedule as all seven teams that compete in field hockey are ranked in the top 25, so the team will definitely be battle-tested when the postseason starts.
The Men’s IX have continued with their high play that led them to the Final Four last year. Their record currently sits at 5-1, and that one loss was just by one goal to the team that knocked them out of the NCAA’s last year, Indiana.
As the Soccer/Lacrosse stadium is still being built, the team is still calling multiple locations home this season, including WakeMed in Cary, and Koskinen in Durham. The lack of a real home field hasn’t been a problem for the team, and the team looks poised to get back to where they were last year.
In a common theme, the conference schedule was set to begin this weekend against the Blue Devils, and that game will have to be reschedule for later in the year. The Tar Heels currently sit third in the country, and they are one of eight teams currently ranked in the country. Wake Forest boasts the number one ranking now, and the two aren’t schedule to meet in the regular season so any showdown would have to wait for the ACC Tournament.
Anson Dorrance’s squad is just coming off a rough patch, losing their last two game played out on the west coast. Both games were nail biters, as they lost to both Santa Clara and Stanford by only one goal. The schedule thus far has been challenging enough for the Tar Heels that it hasn’t affected their rankings, only falling from second to sixth.
If there is any squad that knows how to pull it together and use the lessons learned in defeat, it’ll be this Carolina squad. They are coached by the ultimate “been there, done that” leader, and once the storm passes the Tar Heels will begin their conference slate. It’s full of its typical powers, as four other squads are ranked in the top 25 this years.
As far as home field is concerned, the women’s squad has decided to set roots down at Finley South for the season, deciding it’s better to call one place home instead of multiple sites. They are undefeated at Finely South so far, and have five more events there before the postseason begins. By that time, it’s unknown whether the site will host NCAA Tournament matches or if they’ll move to Cary, but for the time being if the Tar Heels are home, you’ll know where to go.
As fall depends, check out Goheels.com for schedules of all the teams and try to find time to give them your support. As it stands, it may be your best chance to see a winning team until November.