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The Daily Tar Heel

Promise of Fall Crumbled in Spring for Tar Heels

With apologies to Charles Dickens, his opening lines of "A Tale of Two Cities" aptly apply to North Carolina's fall and spring seasons. Although there were notable exceptions, the former was a lot better than the latter.

North Carolina got things off on the right foot with its first game of the year -- a 3-0 field hockey victory against Duke on Aug. 26. The win grabbed UNC 1.5 points in the inaugural Carlyle Cup, an all-sport contest between Duke and UNC.

And as the fall wore on, it became clear it wasn't just another fall.

Women's soccer faltered a little, losing games to Clemson, Florida State and Wake Forest, but ultimately was the same old UNC. The women picked up an ACC title and captured their 16th NCAA crown.

But for once, the story of the fall wasn't about UNC's women -- it was the men.

Behind forward Chris Carrieri, the Tar Heels strung together a 15-game winning streak and grabbed their first ACC title since 1987.

Ranked No. 1 in the country and with a No. 1 seed, the Tar Heels battled William & Mary on a snow-covered Fetzer Field in the first round of NCAAs.

They would advance with a 3-2 victory and evade Rhode Island for a 3-1 win but would fall short against defending national champion Indiana 1-0 at Fetzer.

The soccer squads weren't the only teams to win ACC titles -- volleyball captured its second straight.

Although field hockey and cross country didn't win ACC titles, they still had impressive seasons of their own.

Field hockey made it to the NCAA title game, while Shalane Flanagan led UNC to a second-place finish at ACCs and 12th in NCAAs in cross country.

But for all of the fall's success, the struggles of the football team took center stage. The Tar Heels limped to a 6-5 finish, and UNC coach Carl Torbush lost his job.

Football beat winless Duke, bringing UNC's Carlyle Cup lead to 15-1.

The lead seemed insurmountable -- but as the year dragged on, the Blue Devils were able to charge back.

In the winter, Duke snagged six points in basketball. Although the men's team pulled off the upset in a classic contest at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 1, the Blue Devils proceeded to embarrass the Tar Heels in the last regular-season game and in the ACC final.

The Tar Heels made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where Penn State upset them.

But at least the men made it that far. For the women's basketball team, the season was more of a nightmare.

Although the team returned All-ACC forward LaQuanda Barksdale, who wasn't back was the big news. Nikki Teasley took the year off amid a swirl of rumors.

Coretta Brown stepped in at point guard and performed admirably. But the team never seemed to gel, and the Tar Heels missed out on NCAAs.

As the spring season opened, UNC picked up three ACC titles. Women's indoor track and field and women's swimming and diving finished at the top of the conference, and men's basketball shared the regular-season championship with Duke. But UNC still had a 17-8 lead in the cup.

The spring turned out to be unkind to the Tar Heels. Although women's track picked up the outdoor ACC title, and its distance medley relay team captured the women's first Championship of America this weekend at the Penn Relays, it's been a less-than-successful season for North Carolina.

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At the ACC SpringFest in Orlando, Fla., men's and women's tennis and the men's and women's lacrosse teams could not overcome their first-round opponents.

Duke snapped up 12 points from all four sports and added seven more from baseball, rowing and women's golf to capture the Carlyle Cup.

Although the spring season isn't over yet -- baseball and softball have conference championships, the tennis teams, women's golf, women's lacrosse and both track teams could make it into the NCAAs -- the spring season leaves a bitter taste in North Carolina's mouth after the sweet promise of the fall.

The Sports Editor can be reached at