The winningest program in school history, the North Carolina Tar Heels women’s soccer team also has a long history of alumns going onto successful careers in the professional and international ranks. That won’t change with the upcoming CONCACAF W Championship.
The CONCACAF W Championship, which starts later today, is set to decide what international teams from the region (which is comprised of North America, Central American, and the Caribbean) will qualify for both the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. Two Tar Heels will represent their nations in this year’s championship starting today in Mexico.
One of them will be playing, as so many Tar Heels have, for the USWNT. The US team is at a bit of a changing of the eras, as many stars from the 2015 and 2019 World Cup wins nearing the end of their careers. While several of the names you recognize from those teams are still around, there’s also some new blood starting to come through. One of those up and comers is Tar Heel Emily Fox, who is part of the 23-person squad for the US.
A Tar Heel from 2017-20, Fox was the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NWSL College Draft, and has since gone on to be a key piece for Racing Louisville in the expansion franchise first two years of existance. She made her senior international debut back in 2018, but has became a regular in the last two seasons, making 11 appearances in 2021 and ‘22.
The other Tar Heel taking part in the tournament is Satara Murray, who will represent Jamaica. A member of the 2012 College Cup champion Tar Heels, Murray is a club teammate of Fox at Louisville, having come over this year after a stint playing in England.
Born in the US, Murray is eligible to represent Jamaica through her family, and has since 2021. She’ll be hoping to help get Jamaica to their second ever World Cup appearance, with the country having previously qualified in 2019.
The tournament consists of eight teams, divided up into two groups. The top two in each group advance, and then there will be two semifinals and then a final to decide the winner.
How qualification works is that the top five will make next year’s World Cup. Finishing in the top two in your group will automatically qualify a team, while the two third place teams will have a playoff for the last spot.
This tournament will also double as qualification for the Olympics. Only the winning team will be guaranteed a spot in Paris in 2024, but the runners up and the winner of a third-place playoff will have a chance to get there in further qualifying rounds.
Both the US and Jamaica are in Group A along with Mexico and Haiti. The tournament will begin tonight with the US playing Haiti and Jamaica taking on Mexico. The USWNT’s game will air live on CBS Sports Network. The two teams featuring Heels will face off on the 7th, with Group A wrapping up play on the 10th. The semifinals will be held on July 14th, and the final on the 18th.
The US are the favorites to finish first in the group and get through to the final and a likely meeting with Canada. Jamaica will likely be battling with Mexico for the crucial second place spot.
Good luck to the Tar Heels and their teams and hopefully we’ll see both in Australia and New Zealand for the World Cup in 2023.