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An update on UNC fall sports and their spring seasons

COVID-19 caused normal fall sports to bleed into spring, so let’s check in on how those teams are doing ahead of their upcoming NCAA Tournaments.

NCAA SOCCER: DEC 11 Men’s College Cup National Championship - Wake Forest vs Stanford Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Back in November, the NCAA approved moving the typical fall championships to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of that went down as the ACC continued to play seasons in several of those sports, with several North Carolina teams having good years during the fall.

Well, flash forward a couple months, it’s spring, and several of those fall championships are coming up and UNC teams will likely be involved in them. Let’s recap how they did in the fall and take at what’s coping up in the spring for the various Tar Heel teams.

Women’s soccer

The most successful program in school history was at it again back in the fall winning their first 11 games. They fell in the ACC Championship Game, nearly rallying from 3-0 deficit before coming up short in a 3-2 loss against Florida State. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, as FSU are ranked #1 in the country, with Carolina coming in at #2.

However since the conclusion of the fall season, the NWSL Draft took place and some Tar Heels have turned pro. Emily Fox went first overall, while Taylor Otto went in the second round. Both are no longer with the team during this spring season. On the other hand, Brianna Pinto, who went third overall, is still around and has scored five goals in her last three games in the spring season. In total, nine of the 11 starters for UNC in the ACC Championship Game also appeared in Thursday’s game against Villanova, so the team is still strong heading into the NCAA Tournament.

The Heels will play a couple more games in their abbreviated spring season before the NCAA Tournament field is announced on April 19th. The entire tournament is set to be held in North Carolina, with play beginning April 27th.

Field Hockey

Tar Heels’ field hockey has been the most dominant program in recent memory, winning two straight national championship while also going undefeated in 2018 and ‘19. Their multi-year winning streak ended back during the fall. They then rebounded by winning every game since, including avenging that loss by beating Louisville in the ACC Championship.

Their spring season has included another win over Louisville, and most recently a double overtime win over Duke. Carolina currently sits at #1 in the top 20 poll, with only one vote for Iowa keeping them from being the unanimous top ranked team. The field for the 12-team tournament will be unveiled on April 24th, and the Heels will have a bit of a home field advantage. The tournament will be held at the on-campus stadium named after their coach, Karen Shelton Stadium, with the semifinal on May 7th and the championship game on the 9th.

Men’s soccer

The men’s NCAA Soccer Tournament will also be held at the same sites as the women’s, kicking off on April 29th. The Tar Heel men stand a decent shot at being there, but it may come close.

Back during the fall, the team went 3-2-1, falling in the ACC Tournament to Notre Dame. In the spring, they’ve picked up three wins, including avenging the loss to the Irish. They currently sit at #16 in the top 25.

The men’s soccer NCAA Tournament will feature 36 teams, 12 of which will come from at-large bids. If you the top 25 at it’s word, then they would currently be in. However, most of the teams ranked ahead of them are concentrated in a couple conferences, so it’s not as clear as the #16 ranking might suggest. A win over Duke in the final game of the spring season would be quite helpful.

Volleyball

The field for the 48-team women’s volleyball NCAA Tournament is coming out later today (4 PM ET), with play kicking off on April 14th.

They went 10-8 with wins over then #18 Notre Dame (now #22) and then #14 Duke (now unranked). They themselves aren’t getting any top 25 votes, so it’s unlikely that they’ll get into the NCAA Tournament (although don’t take my guess for gospel), but I guess we’ll find out soon.