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UNC soccer: Tar Heels to play professional opposition in preseason match

The reigning European champions are in town to play the Tar Heels in a special preseason game.

Olympique Lyonnais v FC Barcelona Women - UEFA Women’s Champions League Final Photo by Daniela Porcelli/Getty Images

Typically, college teams play other colleges in preseason exhibitions. For example this year, UNC men’s basketball is playing Winston-Salem State, while the women will play Wingate, both are Division II teams. The men’s soccer team has a couple DI teams on the preseason slate, as they will face Stetson, NC State, and Maryland.

The women’s soccer team will play one preseason game, and it’s a very interesting opponent.

Today at 10 AM ET, the Tar Heels women’s soccer team will take on Olympique Lyonnais, the biggest and best women’s club team in Europe, and arguably the best in the world. Lyon are the reigning 11-time French champions, and have won the last four Women’s Champions Leagues. Their roster is an all-star team of women’s soccer. Of the starting 11 from their 2019 Champions League Final win, nine of the players appeared in the World Cup, which concluded earlier this summer. Of the two exceptions, one’s country did not quality and the other didn’t go due to disagreements her country’s federation. The later just happens to be reigning World Player of the Year, Ada Hegerberg.

One of Lyon’s stars, and the reason this is likely happening, is Lucy Bronze. The England right back played at UNC in 2009, helping win the Tar Heels the College Cup. She turned professional after that season and returned across the pond, where she has since become a star of the world game.

The other reason this is happening is that Lyon are in the area of the Women’s International Champions Cup, which is being held in Cary. It’s a friendly tournament where they will take on Atletico Madrid of Spain and then either Manchester City of England or the host team, the North Carolina Courage.

One thing that should be noted is that none of the aforementioned world stars will likely take part in the game against UNC. It is officially listed as a match between the Tar Heels and the Lyon reserve team, which will probably be a combination of young and bench players. The Lyon starters will all likely be playing in the first ICC match, which was played last night.

Even still, between the match and the training session the French club held on campus, it’s still a cool thing to happen. Imagine if the big three era Miami Heat came to Chapel Hill to practice and play UNC at the Smith Center. That’s the level of star power and ability Lyon have within the women’s soccer world.

The match is being held at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. Good luck to the Tar Heels against what will likely be some stiff competition.