On a similar chilly October night in 1997, North Carolina women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance was doused with water to celebrate tallying his 400th career win.
But even so, Dorrance wasn't prepared for the aftermath of Thursday's game.
When the clock ran out on the match that marked Dorrance's 500th win -- making him the first women's soccer coach to reach such a number -- three of his players ran to the sideline, grabbed a large, orange water cooler and hoisted it up to soak their coach.
"I had a suspicion this might happen, and like a fool, I didn't wear my rain gear," Dorrance said as the scoreboard sparkled "500" behind him. "That's a lack of coaching experience. The timing was great because I was absolutely shocked, and I am standing here, freezing to absolute death."
Even the brisk night couldn't cool the warmth that radiated from the Tar Heels' smiles as they relished in their coach's victory. UNC (13-0, 5-0 in the ACC) dominated Clemson for the duration of the match and defeated the Tigers 3-0. The win vaulted Dorrance's record to 500 wins, 22 losses and 11 ties in his 21-year career.
"This is really special," said senior striker Anne Remy, who scored two goals in the contest. "Anson never asks anything of us for him. We always play for each other. He would never say, `This is my 500th win. Please do this for me.'"
In fact, the coaches didn't say a word about the milestone. Remy didn't find out until a reporter called her to ask her a question about the occasion. "The rumor mill had started, but we didn't address it until we were in the huddle before the game," Remy said. "We all said, `Let's win this one for Anson.' And that's what we went out and tried to do."
And when UNC sets its sights on winning, it's a hard team to stop. The Tar Heels contained the game to Clemson's defensive third of the field and outshot the Tigers 29-3. Clemson (9-3, 3-3) didn't even get a good look at UNC's net until 11 minutes after halftime.
Dorrance said this game would be memorable not just because it was win 500 but because of the way his team played.
"Maybe this will be a turning point for us this year," Dorrance said. "Not that we've had a lot of miserable performances, but I know the kind of performance we need to compete at the highest level, and I saw that performance tonight."
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