North Carolina striker Chris Carrieri has called Fetzer Field home during the past three years.
For his career, Carrieri has netted 24 goals - including seven game-winners - and tallied 11 assists in 36 home matches.
Although Carrieri is a junior, Saturday's national quarterfinal against two-time defending national champion Indiana will likely be his last contest before a Chapel Hill crowd.
Tar Heel coach Elmar Bolowich said Tuesday in a national teleconference that Carrieri has decided to play professionally next season in Major League Soccer.
"We have, actually, a junior who already declared that he wants to go into the draft, get picked up Project-40 and not come back," Bolowich said, "and that is the ACC player of the year, Chris Carrieri, our leading scorer."
Carrieri declined to comment on his professional prospects when contacted.
Project-40 is a joint venture between the MLS and U.S. Soccer in which college-aged players train with professional squads. The players practice with their assigned MLS teams during the week and play on the weekend with either their MLS squads or the
A-League's U.S. Project-40 team.
Carrieri, a forward from Stafford, Va., has built an impressive resume during his stay in Chapel Hill.
He is currently second on UNC's
all-time goals list and is third in career points behind former Tar Heel Derek Missimo. Missimo totaled 56 goals and 138 points from 1987-90; in three years, Carrieri has 50 goals and 122 points.
This season, Carrieri has amassed 25 goals and 14 assists for a total of 64 points, shattering Missimo's school records for goals and points in a season. Missimo had 20 goals and 44 points in 1989.
At the end of the regular season, Carrieri was the nation's leader in points per game (2.86) and goals per game (1.14).
Carrieri will join former Tar Heels Eddie Pope (D.C. United), Tim Sahaydak (Miami Fusion), Carey Talley (D.C. United) and Kerry Zavagnin (Kansas City Wizards) in the MLS.
"Chris is just one heck of a dynamic player," Bolowich said. "I wouldn't want to mark that kid because you can do anything you want to him, and he just doesn't get thrown off his game.
"He constantly goes at you. He has super confidence on the field - at least he displays it that way. He has a drive to take a player one-on-one, and that's what he excels in."
In many ways, Carrieri has helped UNC become one of the nation's top offensive squads. Opposing defenses have to focus on the Tar Heels' speedy forward, freeing up opportunities for midfielder Michael Bucy and forward Caleb Norkus. Bucy has nine goals and 15 assists, while Norkus has 15 goals and 13 assists.
"When you get someone like (Carrieri)," said Stanford coach Bobby Clark, "it's like a little piece of gold."
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