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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women’s soccer team moves to postseason despite not qualifying for ACC playoffs

Sophomore forward/midfielder Avery Patterson (15) dribbles the ball at the game against Virginia on Oct. 3 at Dorrance Field. UNC tied 0-0.

For the first time in program history, the UNC women’s soccer team will not compete in the ACC playoffs.

After a season of competing against tough conference rivals, the team failed to finish in the top six in the ACC, leaving them off the playoff roster. Though the Tar Heels were tied with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons for the sixth spot, they fell short against Wake Forest’s 6-4 conference record.

UNC ended the season with an 11-2-3 record overall and a 4-2-3 conference record.

What’s next for the Tar Heels? 

NCAA College Cup bids will be announced on Nov. 8, which will determine if the No. 7 North Carolina team will compete in the tournament.

The Tar Heels came into the 2021 season ranked third in NCAA Division I polls, and prior to this season, they were 23-0 at home in Dorrance Field.

Big moments on the field

While the Tar Heels fell short of their expectations in the conference, they made a series of well-fought victories that propelled them to the No. 7 ranking by the end of the season. 

Head coach Anson Dorrance’s 900th win came in a 2-1 overtime victory against Notre Dame at home on Oct. 24. After 43 years with the program, Dorrance’s win makes him a record-holder for NCAA wins in women’s soccer. Dorrance has been the only head coach of the program since its inception in 1979.

North Carolina’s final regular-season game was a 4-0 victory against Miami — the Tar Heels' 11th consecutive win against the Hurricanes. First-year forward Emily Murphy excelled, scoring a goal and recording an assist after being out for three games earlier in the season. The performance earned Murphy the player of the match award.

The win against the Hurricanes placed the team in a tie-breaker for sixth to proceed to the championships, but ultimately, Wake Forest advanced to the tournament. 

The Tar Heels held off multiple teams, playing in a team-record seven overtime games and tying the No.1 Florida State Seminoles 2-2 on Oct. 21. Junior forward Isabel Cox scored both of the team's goals during the game.

UNC was notably aggressive on the field, outshooting many of the teams it played against. During its 2021 campaign, North Carolina outshot its opponents 304 to 129, finishing with 35 goals and 33 assists.

Throughout this season, the team has received immense support from students and alumni, with its rivalry game against Duke selling out Dorrance Field. Though the Blue Devils won 1-0, the Tar Heels held their ground throughout, evidenced by three saves from senior goalkeeper Claudia Dickey. Dickey has started every game in goal for the Tar Heels this year, finishing the season with 38 saves to anchor a strong UNC defense.

Murphy, alongside first-year Emily Colton and sophomore Avery Patterson, led the Tar Heels' scoring charge, finishing with four, six and five goals on the season, respectively. 

Since three of the top scorers were underclassmen, UNC looks to be in a good position for postseason play and to continue their growth in the years to come.

@dthsports |

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