The 2021 football season and the frustrating manner in which North Carolina has started it has sucked up a lot of our oxygen this fall. However, while football has been doing whatever it’s been doing, other fall sports have been in action. With a bye week in the football season, let’s check in on how the other Tar Heel teams have been doing of late.
Last year, Anson Dorrance’s program came agonizingly close to another national title, losing in the national semifinals. They came into this season ranked #3 in the preseason polls, behind only the two teams that played for the national championship last year. They moved up to #2 after winning their first seven games by a combined score of 23-4.
Their first loss came to Duke in their eighth game, and they’ve gone 3-2-2 since the 7-0-0 start, including a loss to NC State last weekend. They’ve dropped to #7 in the rankings, which is fourth in a strong ACC.
They’ve been fairly balanced on the stat sheet, with eight different players tallying at least two goals on the season, and no one has more than Emily Colton’s five. Emily Murphy has tallied four goals and four assists despite appearing in only 11 of the 14 games. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Claudia Dickey and the defense have allowed just nine goals all season.
The Heels actually have quite a big game tonight, taking on #1 in the country Florida State, who’s been their rival atop the ACC in recent years.
The men’s team similarly lost in the national semifinals last year and came in with high expectations with a preseason ranking of #4. However, a meh start to the season has seen them drop out of the top 25 entirely.
Carolina was unbeaten with one tie after the first four games, but they’ve suffered five losses since then, and are currently 2-4-0 in ACC play. The final two regular season games are against ranked teams in Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, and they’re probably going to need to do some work in those games and the ACC Tournament to return to the NCAA Tournament.
UNC field hockey has quite notably won the national championship in the past three years. Over those three years, they lost a combined one game on their run to the three-peat from 2018-20. Well, you have to throw in the 2017 season to match how many games Carolina has lost so far this season. After a win last Friday over Wake Forest, UNC currently sit at 9-5, ranked #10 in the country.
Despite returning several key pieces from last year, including national player of the year Erin Matson, the Tar Heels haven’t been as dominant as in past years. However, when they’re on, they’ve still been great, outscoring opponents 47-8 in the nine wins. The five losses have also all come to teams currently in the top 11 of the rankings, including ones to Iowa and Michigan, who are #1 and #2.
Unsurprisingly, Matson’s been excellent again, scoring 18 goals and recording six assists in 12 games.
Even with the record, if the last couple years are anything to go off, write off Karen Shelton’s team at your own risk.
While they’re not ranked, the Tar Heel volleyball team have gotten off to a winning to start to the season, coming in at 16-4 and 5-4 in conference play. They have some big games coming up if they want to cement potential NCAA Tournament hopes. On November 7th, they’re going to take on Louisville, who are currently #2 in the nation. Before that, there’s a October 29th meeting with #13 Georgia Tech.
Beyond those, the cross country season has gotten started, and has featured UNC runners Sasha Neglia, Brynn Brown, and Parker Wolfe winning meets, with both teams spending times in the rankings.
There’s also a couple other sports either about to start their seasons or in the very early stages. As we near November, we are well and truly into the college sports year.