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The Daily Tar Heel

Women's Soccer Chases 17th National Crown

The No. 2 Tar Heels will play Radford tonight at 5 p.m at Fetzer Field. UNC leads the series against the Highlanders, which started in 1981, 13-0, and has allowed five goals.

The match marks the 21st time the Tar Heels (17-1-4, 4-1-2 in the ACC) have qualified for a tournament seed and third time for the Highlanders (15-4-1).

In its 24-year-old varsity program, UNC has won 16 NCAA titles, 11 of which were preceded by an ACC title.

And this year seems to be progressing no differently. Despite having four regular-season ties -- the most ever accumulated by UNC -- the Tar Heels came alive during last week's ACC tournament. UNC shut out each of its three opponents and established a record for the largest margin of victory in tournament history.

The Tar Heels took this week to prepare, focusing more on technique than on physical exertion.

"We've tried to taper," said North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance. "Obviously, three games in a weekend is a lot of work. We're trying to get our legs rested, so we tried to make the practices a little shorter. We're just trying to get the girls tapered and excited to play."

For at least 16 Tar Heels, desire shouldn't be an issue. Last year UNC suffered its first loss in the title match, which was held in Dallas against Santa Clara. The 1-0 blunder is a nagging reminder -- not of a poor season, but of a job left unfinished.

"It definitely gives us more incentive," said junior defender Catherine Reddick. "We don't like to lose. We want to win obviously, but we want to play as a team and gel as a team, and that's our goal -- to become better than we were."

But for at least the first tournament game, UNC will play without freshman Lori Chalupny, who is still out with ligament damage. In addition, senior defender Leslie Gaston, who was voted MVP of the ACC tournament, sustained a knee injury in Thursday's practice. Her status was unknown as of Thursday afternoon.

Freshman Kasey White, anxious to contribute to UNC's performance in the tournament, said she's confident the Tar Heels will bounce back.

"We had a good taper going into the ACCs, and that ended up well," White said. "We're trying to do the same routine that we had, except I think we've had more of a focus even more so this week because this is the third section of our season, and it's the most important.

"It's do or die now."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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