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The Daily Tar Heel

Women's Soccer Seeks 14th ACC Title

The combination of the best recruiting class in Tar Heel history and a plethora of already honed talent had provided UNC coach Anson Dorrance with several lineup choices.

But now as the Tar Heels travel to Tallahassee, Fla. for the first round of the ACC tournament, the strength of Dorrance's options have diminished slightly either by injury or outside obligations. UNC will play Wake Forest, the eighth seed in the conference, at 5:30 p.m. today at Florida State's Seminole Soccer Complex.

Several Tar Heels are injured, including freshman forward Lori Chalupny and senior goalkeeper Jenni Branam. Chalupny was diagnosed with ligament damage in her left ankle and is not expected to play for at least another week, leaving an offensive hole for UNC to fill.

Branam continues to struggle with an old knee injury, but is working back into the game and is getting increased minutes. Last week against Maryland, the senior was cleated in the forehead, and had to receive several stitches both on the in and outside of the gash. The injury will not keep her from playing tonight.

"With the kinds of injuries we've had this year, its been hard for us to field our most powerful unit," Dorrance said.

And even with injuries, the Tar Heels (14-1-4, 4-1-2 in the ACC) have far from struggled this year, earning the top seed in a conference with as many as six other teams ranked in the top 25.

But Dorrance has other ideas for coping with the loss of key players. Starting with the offensive third, Dorrance plans to keep freshman forward Lindsay Tarpley at attacking midfield.

Dorrance called that move one of the best decisions that he and his coaching staff have made all year.

It's obvious why. Tarpley's quickness in the midfield gave UNC more energy during last Friday's 1-1 tie against Maryland. The position also grants Tarpley more space both for protection. For this reason, Dorrance said he can afford to give her more minutes.

And playing Tarpley translates into more Tar Heel shots. Now all UNC has to do is convert its opportunities.

"We are getting in, we're getting some opportunities," said senior Leslie Gaston. "I just think it's focus in the attacking backs, but also making the correct pass as far as getting players in. Basically making a decision to hit the frame, and we need to have a greater focus when we're around the net to hit the frame, hit with the correct services and follow every shot."

Defensively, the Tar Heels are minus defender Catherine Reddick, who is playing with the U.S. women's national team. Reddick will return to the team Sunday, should UNC be successful in its 14th successive quest for an ACC championship.

"I think we're doing really well going into the tournament," Dorrance said. "We have one loss and a couple of ties. I think as far as a team we're realizing what we need to win."

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

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