Minutes after time ran out in No. 6 North Carolina’s 2-0 win against No. 23 Ohio State on Sunday, coach Anson Dorrance skillfully dodged a Gatorade shower from graduate midfielder Annie Kingman and redshirt senior forward Jessie Scarpa.
The 67-year-old head coach has some experience in avoiding getting soaked during celebrations following big wins. This was Dorrance’s 1,000th career victory.
Dorrance started coaching the North Carolina men’s team in 1977, then he coached the men and women from 1979 to 1988 before transitioning to coach only the women in 1988. He has won 828 matches with the women’s team and 172 matches with the men’s team.
In his 42 years as a college coach, Dorrance has achieved a 90.5 win percentage. His career record of 1000-135-59 makes him the winningest coach of all-time in Division I women’s soccer.
“I’m surprised they didn’t throw in my badminton wins here in the intramural department,” Dorrance joked after the match. “I’ve been coaching a long time with a lot of wonderful players on both sides of the gender divide, and all of a sudden, the number ends up 1,000. (I’m) proud to represent this great university.”
Kingman, who is in her fifth year with the program, has spent as much time playing for Dorrance as anyone on the team.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Kingman said. “Anson is such an awesome coach, but more than just a soccer coach, he’s a life coach for all of us. He makes being a part of this program so incredibly special. This win is all for him. Every win is for him, because he’s taught us so much.”
It wasn’t just Kingman who was motivated to help Dorrance reach yet another career milestone. First-year Brianna Pinto made her debut Sunday after she returned from playing for the United States in the Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
Pinto opened up the scoring by finding the back of the net on a 20-yard direct free kick in the 37th minute. The 5-foot-5 midfielder fired a shot to the right of the Buckeyes’ five-player wall, just out of reach of the Ohio State goalkeeper’s fingertips and into the right pocket of the net.
The Durham native’s father, Hassan Pinto, played soccer at North Carolina in the early 1990s. Dorrance recruited Hassan before making the decision to only coach the women’s team. Brianna grew up wanting to wear a Tar Heel uniform, so the goal in her debut was extra special.
“It means everything,” Pinto said. “I’ve wanted to play for this program my entire life and I remember coming out here as a kid and watching Anson coach. He was fantastic then (and he’s) fantastic now. I can’t wait to build my career alongside of him.”
The first-year gave the Tar Heels the lead, and a trio of teammates put the game away. Sophomore midfielder Emily Fox sped past a Buckeye defender on the left side of the pitch and found redshirt sophomore forward Taylor Otto in the box. Otto then kicked a ball that sailed over the head of the Ohio State goalkeeper and in front of junior forward Bridgette Andrzejewski. Andrzejewski tapped in the header in the 58th minute, securing win number 1,000 for Dorrance.
Often, the team will dedicate games to a player or a player’s family member who is going through a hard time. But Kingman said that in the Tar Heels’ pregame huddle Sunday afternoon, the team declared that this win would be for Dorrance and everything he’s meant to the program.
Dorrance doesn’t care to have the spotlight or the credit. He just wants to continue to do what he’s been doing for more than four decades — dominate.
“They don’t have to play for me, as long as they’re kicking everyone’s rear end,” Dorrance said. “Play for whatever you like. Play for the sun god — I could care less. But just get out there and light yourself on fire and make it happen.”
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