Mia Hamm, Tobin Heath, Heather O’Reilly, Lucy Bronze — all icons of the game of soccer that got their start donning Carolina blue for head coach Anson Dorrance and the UNC women’s soccer team.
Now, three new names will try to emerge from Chapel Hill and craft their own legends. Tar Heel stars Emily Fox, Brianna Pinto and Taylor Otto were all drafted in the first two rounds of the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League draft on Jan. 13, giving them a shot at pro glory.
As they seek to write their own stories, let’s take a look at the ones they wrote while playing on Dorrance Field.
There’s a good reason Racing Louisville FC chose Fox with the first overall pick of the draft. If solid play, championship experience and inner strength are what the newly created team needed in a player, it's in luck, because Fox has those attributes in spades.
Fox proved her skill from day one, being named to the third-team All-ACC squad in her first year. She followed this up with three consecutive first-team All-ACC appearances and was named a finalist for the 2019 Hermann Trophy, given to the best college soccer player in the nation. All these honors came despite tearing her ACL twice — once as a first-year, and once in her junior year.
Despite her second injury, Fox came back and was the rock of a solid Tar Heel defense that conceded just three goals throughout the regular season en route to a 2020 ACC Championship appearance, where the team fell to top-seeded Florida State in the final. With her professional career now staring her in the face, Fox’s wealth of talent and big-game experience will give her a head start in blazing her own path.
On a soccer field, there isn’t much Pinto can’t do.