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The Daily Tar Heel

Women’s soccer returns nine starters in ’09

Class of 2010 looks for third title

Tobin Heath is a senior leader on UNC’s midfield. She and others are gunning for a national championship. DTH/Andrew Dye
Tobin Heath is a senior leader on UNC’s midfield. She and others are gunning for a national championship. DTH/Andrew Dye

Fresh off a national championship, the class of 2010 women’s soccer team is looking to win their third national championship in their four-year era.

Members of the senior class started their time together before freshman year, with conference calls involving 10 of the girls with the intention of bonding before they even moved in for training camp.

So far, the class is 71-6-3 over their first three years in Chapel Hill. There’s a great chance that they will be able to build on that already sterling record this season.

The team is returning nine starters from the championship game, and they will also have international players Nikki Washington and Meghan Klingenberg back for full strength this year.

They went to Chile for the U-20 World Cup just after the ACC tournament and didn’t take part in the Tar Heels’ NCAA Tournament run.

“What’s been great for us is both of those kids, Meghan Klingenberg and Nikki Washington, have filled two holes in the field left by Allie Long and Yael Averbuch.” coach Anson Dorrance said.

At this point last year, preseason camp was aimed toward breaking two new starters into the backline: former attacker Whitney Engen and former midfielder Rachel Givan.

This year’s team has no such concern, as the entire defense and one of the goalies have returned.

“Last year, I came in expecting to be a forward,” senior Engen said. 

“I was told I was going to be a center back. So compared to last year, I have a year and two weeks experience instead of two weeks experience going into the first game.”

The added experience will come in handy, as the Tar Heels face a characteristically difficult schedule.

Three non-conference matches, including a scrimmage with No. 3 UCLA and a match against last year’s national championship opponent and current No. 5 team Notre Dame are on the itinerary.

The attack also figures to be formidable, as the squad returns the highest scorer in the NCAA last year in Casey Nogueira. Eighty-five percent of last year’s goals were scored by players on this year’s roster.

One of last year’s attackers, Jessica McDonald, had surgery soon after the championship game.

After a summer of rehab, she was given the green light to participate in drills early in training camp, leaving her with very little catch-up work to do.

On Nogueira’s other side, Courtney Jones is returning, meaning all of last year’s attacking starters are back.

For the Class of 2010, as much as they want to deliver another national championship, they want to enjoy their time in Chapel Hill with each other even more.

“We really enjoy each other,” Engen said. “The thing I’m looking forward to most about this year is I enjoy spending time with these people. We go to lunch together every day. We go to practice together every day. We go to dinner together every day; and then it’s ‘Hey, what are you doing tonight?’

“This is my last year of eligibility, so I want to make sure I enjoy every minute with every person.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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