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Tar Heels in the Women’s World Cup: Katie Bowen

The New Zealand native will represent her home country in the FIFA World Cup.

NWSL: North Carolina Courage at San Diego Wave FC Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance coached some stellar international players during his tenure, and now yet another one of them will be participating in the 2023 FIFA World Cup. Former Carolina midfielder Katie Bowen will represent her home country of New Zealand in this year’s tournament for the fourth time in her decorated career.

During her time at UNC, Bowen scored one goal and logged nine assists while starting 59 of the 66 games that she played in. She also helped the Tar Heels win the national championship during her freshman season in 2012. During her career with UNC, Bowen also landed a starting spot for New Zealand in the 2015 FIFA World Cup. Here is what she had to say about her experience:

“The World Cup was a great experience,” Bowen said. “I had so much fun, but I was ready to come back here, and I was ready to take this season on. In the spring, I really missed Chapel Hill; I missed the team; I missed the coaching; I missed everything. I wouldn’t say that I was rushing to come back here, but I was never upset at the fact that I was finally heading back to North Carolina.”

After finishing up her career with the Tar Heels, Bowen was selected by FC Kansas City with the 16th pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft. She appeared in 35 games for KC before the club ceased operations, and so she was added to the Utah Royals FC roster from there. She continued a journey that brought her back to the Triangle to play for the North Carolina Courage for one season, but eventually made her way to Australia to play for Melbourne City.

Bowen will be playing on a team that features some younger players that just finished third in the U17 World Cup. Here is what Bowen had to say about how their experience can help out the older players:

“I still remember celebrating their win. And I think we can actually lean on those younger girls,” Bowen told FIFA+ on Tuesday.

“That’s not common to do in senior teams but I think we can discuss what it took for them to seize that moment and make sure it didn’t slip away.

“They had success that we’ve not had as senior Ferns teams and I think they can teach us what they learned from that tournament and what came after it.”

These lessons from the younger players will be important because New Zealand has never made it out of the group stage of the World Cup. Bowen and her team look to do so for the first time ever, and ultimately hope to win the whole thing. It will be quite an uphill climb, but anything is possible with a Tar Heel on your team, right?

New Zealand will begin their World Cup journey on July 20th when they face off in the group stage against the Philippines and Switzerland. Best of luck to Bowen, and best of luck to every other Tar Heel that will be participating!