In its 32 back-to-back years of play in the NCAA tournament, the No. 1 seeded North Carolina women’s soccer team has faced countless opponents.
But Friday’s kickoff at Fetzer Field will prove to be a first for the Tar Heels, who have yet to battle Indiana in the postseason.
The NCAA selection show was routine for North Carolina, the only school in the nation to have qualified for every single NCAA tournament. However, the Hoosier locker room erupted when their at-large bid was revealed, Indiana’s fourth in program history. This enthusiasm translated to a 1-0 victory over DePaul in the first round.
However, senior Kealia Ohai believes that the Tar Heels are anything but complacent with their NCAA legacy, and will have no trouble matching the excitement of the Hoosiers when the initial whistle blows.
“My class has had a different route than most Carolina teams because our first two seasons we lost early in the tournament,” Ohai said.
“We came in as freshmen and thought, ‘This is Carolina, we’re just going to step into it and win,’ and that’s really not the case. It is so hard to win a national championship. It doesn’t matter if you’re North Carolina.”
Coach Anson Dorrancesaid morale in practice this week has been high, perhaps in correlation to the return of leading scorer senior Crystal Dunn.
Dunn, who was recently named a finalist for U.S. Youth Soccer Player of the Year, suffered a hamstring injury prior to UNC’s ACC semifinal match against Florida State, and her future seemed uncertain.
“She jumped into a little bit of practice Tuesday in the warm-up,” Dorrance said. “She is healing, but we have no idea when she can return to full competition.”