“This is a Women’s Soccer school...we’re just trying to keep up with them.”
-Dean Smith 1997
Any mention of the North Carolina Women’s Soccer program begins and ends with Anson Dorrance. Along the way, names like Hamm, Lilly, Overbeck, O’Reilly, Heath, and Dunn will be mentioned as well. UNC Soccer and the US Women’s National Team have three things in common: 1) They are the greatest dynasty their sport has ever known, 2) They feature generations of legendary players that honed their craft in Chapel Hill, and 3) The person who started it all is the same person.
22 National Championships, 20 ACC titles, seven Coach of the Year awards, and one Women’s World Cup. Dorrance has all of these honors, and now he has one more: A field named for him.
The University of North Carolina announced on Monday that the field of the newly opened Soccer and Lacrosse facility in Chapel Hill will be named Dorrance Field. The official dedication will take place on September 29th when the #2-ranked UNC women take on Notre Dame. Like his contemporary, Roy Williams, Dorrance will coach games on a playing space that bears his name.
UNC interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz saluted Dorrance when delivering the announcement:
“From the team’s inception, Anson has built a true dynasty for women’s soccer at Carolina. Not only is he a world-renowned coach, he is a lifelong mentor and role model to our student athletes who cares deeply for both their academic and athletic success. Anson is a Tar Heel legend who inspires us every day with his wisdom, determination and generous spirit.”
Dorrance had this to say:
“It’s truly something special to see my family’s name enshrined as part of this beautiful new facility. This honor is a tribute not only to myself and my loved ones but also all the women and men who played for me over the past 42 years. It honors my staff as well and all those who have contributed to both of our soccer programs being world-class, national champion entities. I am humbled by this tribute, especially so coming from my beloved alma mater. To see this unique, one-of-a-kind stadium come to fruition is so heartwarming as it sets up the future for generations to come for four of our university’s national championship sports.”
Dorrance is in the midst of his 43rd season as a head coach at UNC. He began initially as the coach of the men’s team in 1977, then added duty of being the inaugural coach of the newly-formed women’s program in 1979. He moved solely to the women’s program in 1989. In 1986, he became the head coach of US Women’s National team and led them to victory in the first ever Women’s World Cup in 1991.