An all too familiar situation for the Tar Heels, who have won the NCAA Tournament 16 times.
But at 5 p.m. today at Gerald Ford Stadium, UNC will face its biggest challenge of the season in the semifinal match against a formidable and unfamiliar opponent -- Portland.
"We don't play them often, but they are always good," said senior midfielder Jena Kluegel. "They have a lot of skilled players and play a really organized game. It will be an exciting game -- it deserves to be."
Both teams want to get on the scoreboard early, but both squads have also proved they can come back to win.
UNC looked like it was going to get an early boot from the tourney when it faced Rutgers. The Tar Heels were down a goal for 52 minutes before scoring twice to win.
The Pilots had a scare of their own in a quarterfinal contest against Texas A&M. The Aggies scored early, but Portland rallied to score four goals and earn a trip to Dallas for the final four.
UNC coach Anson Dorrance said that although he would like the Tar Heels to drive every opponent into the ground, the close tournament games have instilled in his team an automatic response to challenges.
"There's a spin on everything, sort of like politics," Dorrance said. "If we had blown out every team, we would be riding a great wave of momentum. But since we've weaved in and out of playing well, we've learned to deal with adversity."
Both teams acknowledge the talent of their opponent, but neither coach is doing anything drastic to prepare for tonight's match. Defender Danielle Borgman said practice has been a bit more intense, but that the Tar Heels (23-0) stuck with their usual routine for the last week of practice.