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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: UNC has three teams ranked in the top 3 playing this weekend

Pat James

Sports editor Pat James

The University of National Champions — it’s a moniker tossed around loosely when one starts talking about North Carolina athletics.

You might have even used the nickname on one or two occasions when you’re hanging around your friends from Duke or N.C. State. With 43 team national championships across eight different teams, UNC’s tradition of athletic excellence is a source of pride for all Tar Heels. But even with all-around success, the football and men’s basketball teams garner most of the spotlight.

Don’t get me wrong — both teams are worthy of notice. They have both brought in an abundance of cash and national exposure, mostly good, to the University. But many of UNC’s Olympic-sport teams consistently rank among the best in the country and deserve your attention. This fall is no different.

The field hockey and men’s and women’s soccer teams are all ranked in the top three in the country, and each has the chance to add another championship to its resume.

The men’s soccer team, responsible for two of UNC’s national titles, jumped to No. 2 in the country on Tuesday. Even when facing one of its toughest opponents of the season in then-No. 2 Notre Dame, the Tar Heels looked the part of a championship-caliber team during Friday’s 4-2 win.

With 22 national championships to its credit, the No. 2 women’s soccer team has outscored its opponents 28-4 through nine matches. What might be even more telling of the Tar Heels’ success is their 196-52 shot advantage this season.

Coach Anson Dorrance’s heralded program is in the midst of a two-year championship drought, and it has never gone more than two years without claiming a national title. Given UNC’s success so far, the team has a realistic shot of continuing its historic streak.

The field hockey team sits at No. 3 in the coaches’ poll and boasts five wins against top-20 teams, including a 5-0 shutout of then-No. 9 Louisville on Friday. The Tar Heels’ three seniors have played in the Final Four during their first three seasons, and a return seems possible.

All three of these teams play in Chapel Hill on either Thursday or Friday. So instead of solely focusing on Saturday’s football game, I encourage you to head to Fetzer Field or Francis E. Henry Stadium.

You might be watching a future national champion.

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