In the four years since Bowen’s first World Cup appearance at 17 years old, Bowen has played three seasons as a member of the North Carolina women’s soccer team.
And for the senior, her time at UNC has made all the difference.
“Without a doubt, Carolina has made me the player that I am,” Bowen said. “It has brought me out of my shell and made me the confident player.”
That confidence and the three years of exposure to top competition made a world of difference on the world stage for Bowen.
“The first one, I was fresh out of the water,” Bowen said. “I was really nervous and didn’t want to make mistakes. This World Cup, I was much more confident in my ability, and I had a lot of fun.”
Bowen was joined by eight former North Carolina players in the tournament, meaning UNC fans and coaches witnessed quite a show throughout the entire tournament.
“It felt like just about every game we had some sort of personal connection,” said Bill Palladino, assistant coach of the women’s soccer team. “It was immensely entertaining.”
While Bowen fell short, she felt a great level of pride watching six UNC players on the U.S. national team as they secured a third World Cup championship.
North Carolina led all U.S. colleges in players appearing in the tournament. Coach Anson Dorrance attributed the feat to good recruiting and the tradition of UNC women’s soccer.
“The challenge for us, of course, is finding the ones who truly want to be the best,” Dorrance said. “Everyone says they want to be, but only a few really believe deep down.”
For Dorrance and company, Bowen might just be that player, as her eyes now turn toward a different trophy — one her hands have laid upon before.
“I want nothing more in this world than to win the national championship,” Bowen said. “That’s where my head is right now.”
Having already won a title her freshman year, Bowen knows what it will take and is up for the challenge. Now in her final year as a Tar Heel, she can’t wait to battle next year.
“I don’t want anyone to hand me anything,” Bowen said. “I want to prove myself. I want to fight.”