But in the 2016 campaign, Somoano has one of the most talented teams he’s ever coached — with a No. 1 recruiting class and a cast of veterans that finished 15-2-3 a season ago. Here’s what to expect from the No. 8 Tar Heels, who open play at home against Cal Poly on Friday.
How do they play?
The Tar Heels will rely on depth, perhaps more than ever. With talented recruits and the top three scorers from 2015, this roster is one of the best in recent memory.
Redshirt senior Tucker Hume came off the bench for much of 2015 and led the team in scoring — and a newcomer could pull off something similar this year.
Who stands out?
Tucker Hume, redshirt senior forward: UNC’s leading goal-scorer from a season ago is back, and he’s likely to see an increased role. After coming off the bench at the beginning of 2015, Hume proved to be a valuable asset up front. His 6-foot-5 frame is lethal on corner kicks and his sneaky speed makes him a nightmare for defenses.
Cam Lindley, first-year mifielder: Widely regarded as the top prospect in the 2016 class, the newcomer will anchor a star-studded UNC midfield. The Carmel, Indiana native has played at the international level and is an ideal piece for Somoano’s starting 11.
James Pyle, redshirt sophomore goalkeeper: After allowing 0.67 goals per game and going 11-1-2 as a starter in 2015, the sophomore will provide a strong presence between the posts. With the starting job and a season under his belt, Pyle should be crucial to UNC’s success.