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UNC Soccer: Tar Heels help England to Euro 2022 victory

The England women’s soccer team won their first ever major tournament title thanks to contributions from some Tar Heels.

England v Germany: Final - UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Photo by Stephanie Meek - CameraSport via Getty Images

Of the last couple weeks, we’ve been keeping tabs on the England women’s national soccer team, which features three former North Carolina Tar Heels players, while also being coached by a Tar Heel, in their quest to become European champions at Euro 2022. On Sunday, the tournament, which had been held in the team’s home country, concluded with England, and the three Heels, lifting the trophy after a 2-1, extra time win over Germany in the final.

Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo, Lotte Wubben-Moy, and manager Sarina Wiegman (who spent a year in Chapel Hill in 1989) will all take home winner’s medals as the helped their national team bring home England women’s first ever major tournament win. It’s the first tournament win for either England senior national team since the men won the 1966 FIFA World Cup.

During the week, we highlighted Russo and Bronze’s heroics in England’s 4-0 semifinal win over Sweden. Both appeared in the final, but nether got on the scoresheet this time. Despite that, both put in important efforts. Bronze in particular put in hard work in the final as part of England’s defense that managed to withstand Germany’s dying efforts towards the end.

Bronze and Russo played key roles for the champions throughout the tournament. Russo will finish as the tournament’s third-leading goal scorer, with four, despite coming off the bench in all six of England’s games. There was also the matter of her incredible goal in the semifinal.

Meanwhile, Bronze played nearly every single minute in every single match for England, only missing a handful in their final group stage game, getting subbed off to get some rest after the team had already clinched a knockout stage spot. She was part of the England defense that allowed just two goals in six games on the road to the victory.

The third, Wubben-Moy, did not end up appearing at the tournament, but she had to miss some time and be away from the England camp after testing positive for COVID-19 during the tournament.

As for Wiegman, this is the second consecutive European Championship victory for a team she’s managed, having led the Netherlands to a victory in 2017. Leading a England national team to a international tournament victory is no small task, and now she’s just the second entry on the list.

As mentioned, the win was England’s first European Championship win and first of any major tournament in the women’s game. England had previously only made the final on one other occasion, falling in the 2009 final to Germany. They’re set to turn their attentions to the 2023 World Cup, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand, starting next July. England, and potentially all three Tar Heels with Wiegman at the helm, will likely be one of the favorites, along with the US, another team that often prominently features UNC alumns.