The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Kluegel Expects to Play Despite Sprained Ankle

If Anson Dorrance was afraid, he wasn't showing it.

The North Carolina women's soccer coach had just learned that he might be without star midfielder Jena Kluegel for Friday's NCAA semifinal match against Notre Dame.

The Tar Heels had already been playing without forward Susan Bush, who was lost for the season Oct. 25 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.

Could the Tar Heels actually win the national championship, their 16th in 19 years, without Kluegel and Bush?

"I don't know," Dorrance said. "But I'm excited to see."

The good news for Dorrance, as of Sunday night, was that he probably won't have to find out. Kluegel's ankle sprain isn't as severe as the team originally feared, and Kluegel expects to play in the final four this weekend.

"It's healing good," Kluegel said. "It looks a lot better than I thought it would, so things look good for the weekend."

Kluegel sustained her injury in the 56th minute of UNC's 3-0 victory against Connecticut on Friday afternoon. She was away from the ball when she cut back to make a run. It was then that her right ankle rolled and she heard a popping noise.

She left the match with the Tar Heels holding a 1-0 lead and did not return.

Freshman Catherine Reddick substituted for Kluegel, setting off a mass shift in the UNC lineup. Reddick entered the game as a defender and pushed up Danielle Borgman to a forward position. Anne Remy moved back to the midfield from her forward spot, taking over for Kluegel in the flank midfield.

Borgman, who might be North Carolina's fastest player, enjoyed her chance to try to score goals instead of prevent them. She earned an assist on UNC's second goal after making a sliding cross from the right corner.

"When I'm thrown up top, all of this pressure is released off of me," Borgman said. "I don't have to worry that if I lose the ball - I'm still going to bust my butt to get back - but I'm not the last line of defense. I have a little bit of pressure released off of me, and it's the greatest fun. I just love it."

Borgman is an effective forward, but the Tar Heels are at their best with her in the back, Kluegel in the midfield and Remy up front.

Few players in the nation attack opposing defenses with the tenacity that Kluegel does. She ranks second in the nation with 22 assists, a figure that is the fourth-best single-season total in UNC history.

Her plan this week is to take it easy so that she'll get the chance to add to that total. Kluegel has been icing her ankle and doing rehabilitation exercises since Saturday and will continue to do so. She said she probably won't touch a soccer ball until Wednesday or Thursday.

So far, so good.

"That seems to be working because it looks good," Kluegel said. "It's not swollen, and it's not black and blue. That's a good sign."

The Sports Editor can be reached at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.