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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's soccer sends Fetzer Field off in style

The UNC women's soccer team walks off the field in joy after defeating Clemson 1-0 in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday.

The UNC women's soccer team walks off the field in joy after defeating Clemson 1-0 in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday.

Just under his left kneecap, North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance has a peculiar scar. The legendary coach and former UNC men’s soccer player self-coins it “the chicken-bone scar.” 

Dorrance recalls getting the chicken-bone scar while playing on Fetzer Field in the early 1970s. But back then, Fetzer Field wasn’t just a sports venue. 

“They used to park cars back there,” Dorrance said. “They used to do football tailgating out there.”

Apparently, chicken was on the menu in the tailgate before Dorrance’s injury. After sliding in for a tackle, Dorrance arose with a chicken bone lodged under his kneecap, suffering what must be one of the oddest injuries in sports history.

Dorrance laughs about the incident, now more than 40 years later. The chicken-bone scar is just one of his many fond memories at storied Fetzer Field.

Against Clemson on Sunday, Dorrance and his team made their final memory in the last women’s soccer game ever played on the historic field. In the offseason, Fetzer Field will undergo renovations to build a stadium for the four teams that occupy the field. 

The Tar Heels made sure their last memory was a good one, pushing their way to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 win over the third-seeded Tigers. But earlier this year, Dorrance and the UNC faithful couldn't have imagined the final home game this season would come with North Carolina as a No. 2 seed in the round of 16 — and rightfully so. 

“Their overachievement is remarkable,” Dorrance said, “Because we are eight starters shy of last year.” 

The team struggled to start the season — most glaringly after back-to-back losses to Southern California and N.C. State — and wasn’t considered a championship contender by most. Now, the Tar Heels are just three wins away from a 23rd national title. 

“We’re a completely different team in all aspects,” goalkeeper Lindsey Harris said. “We’ve really kind of figured it out.” 

First-year forward Zoe Redei got to see the team’s improvement from the outside looking in while she sat out with an ankle injury. Redei watched the team develop from the bench, and now she is helping the team take yet another step forward. 

“They’ve improved so much since I’ve been out,” Redei said. “They just continue to improve, and it’s just amazing to be back playing with them.”

Despite the ups and downs this season, Dorrance has constantly credited his players for their willingness to learn and improve. For Dorrance, the development of the team this season is what makes Sunday’s win and his final game at Fetzer so special.

“What I love is that my blood’s out there on that field,” Dorrance said, “And I can’t think of a team that I’d rather have retire Fetzer Field than this group.”

@_Brohammed

sports@dailytarheel.com

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