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Soccer teams face stiff challenges in NCAAs

In its first College Cup game, the North Carolina women’s soccer team will face a familiar foe.

Last season, UNC claimed the NCAA crown against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a 2-1 comeback victory, marking the sixth time they ousted the team from the tournament.

Most recently, the Tar Heels spanked Notre Dame 6-0 in South Bend, Ind., in an early-season rematch of the title game.

“I think that’s going to fire a spark in them and make them come out really hard against us,” senior forward Casey Nogueira said.

“They’re going to come out there to beat us because they’re probably mad we beat them at their home field.”

Head coach Anson Dorrance is not excited to play a team twice — something his team has been forced to do four times this season.

“Obviously the last thing you want to do is play a team in the NCAA Tournament you’ve already beaten,” Dorrance said.

“What you’d rather play in the NCAA Tournament is someone who has beaten you, because the motivational edge is in your favor.”

The Tar Heels’ only rematch against a team that had beaten them already this season was the ACC Championship game against Florida State, where Dorrance and UNC “relished the opportunity” and won 3-0.

The Irish enter tonight’s contest in College Station, Texas, with a 19-game unbeaten streak. Both schools have identical 21-3-1 records.

One difference from the early season is Nogueira’s game. The forward has become the team’s leading scorer this season with 12 goals after a spark in tournament play. Nogueira has racked up six goals in seven postseason games.

—Compiled by Jonathan Jones

Men’s soccer facing Drake

Today’s men’s soccer game is a classic contrast of styles.

Drake, UNC’s opponent in the elite eight, plays a more attacking style. The statistics back this up, as the Bulldogs rank seventh in the nation in goals per game, netting an average of 2.13 each game.

By contrast, North Carolina plays a much more defensive style. They rank sixth in goals against per game, limiting their opponents to an average of .53 goals per game.

Drake advanced to the Elite Eight with a topsy-turvy 6-4 win against Boston College.

BC was no slouch defensively, either. They had not allowed more than two goals in a game all season. Drake scored two goals on them within two minutes of each other, and three goals in 13 minutes.

UNC advanced behind a 1-0 win against Indiana.

Whichever team can impose its style of play on the other stands a good chance to win the game and advance to the College Cup.

—Compiled by Louie Horvath

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