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The Daily Tar Heel

Former UNC women's soccer players Crystal Dunn, Emily Fox to play in World Cup

Former UNC midfielder Emily Fox (11) dribbles the ball downfield during the NCAA quarterfinal game against USC at Dorrance Field on Friday, November 29, 2019. Fox will be one of two Tar Heel alumni representing the U.S. Women's National team in the 2023 World Cup.

This year, two Tar Heels have been selected to represent the U.S. Women's National Team with the hope of securing the team's third consecutive World Cup title. Crystal Dunn and Emily Fox, who both played collegiate soccer at UNC, were two of the 23 players named to the team by head coach Vlatko Andonovski.

The USWNT holds four FIFA World Cup titles, and a former UNC player has been on every one of the winning teams.

The team won both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, gaining redemption after their 2011 defeat in the final against Japan. Five Tar Heel women were a part of the 2019 roster, but Dunn will be the only one to return to the 2023 tournament.

After playing every minute of all six rounds of their victorious run in France, this will be Dunn's second World Cup. Since the last tournament, Dunn has numerous accomplishments in her professional and personal career, including making her second appearance at the Olympics during 2020 while also being the only player on the USWNT to start all six games at the Tokyo Games.

She gave birth to her first child in 2022, shortly after helping her club team, the Portland Thorns, win the NWSL Challenge Cup, the Women's International Champions Cup and finish at the top of the league standings in the 2021 season.

Dunn started her career at UNC in 2010, winning National Rookie of the Year and becoming the first-ever first-year to be named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. She also helped UNC to a national championship win over Penn State in 2012. 

Unlike Dunn, Fox is making her first World Cup appearance. During her sophomore season as a Tar Heel, she made her debut for the USWNT in the middle of UNC's season before returning during the NCAA Tournament.

While this is Fox's first senior national team World Cup, she was able to participate in the short-lived appearance of the U.S. in the 2018 U20 World Cup. Later that year, she was called up to the senior team, first playing in a set of international friendlies.

After her UNC career, she was the first overall pick of the 2021 NWSL Draft by Racing Louisville FC. During her first professional year, she played more minutes than any other NWSL rookie, led the league in interceptions and was a finalist for the NWSL Rookie of the Year Award. 

Six months before being picked for the 2023 FIFA World Cup roster, Fox was traded to the North Carolina Courage, who play in Cary.

Both Dunn and Fox will look to have an impact at this year's Women's World Cup and help the USWNT win their third consecutive title. The women will kick off their first game on July 21 against Vietnam in Auckland, New Zealand, at 9 p.m.


@dthsports |

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