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UNC women's soccer first-year and Chapel Hill native Mia Oliaro shines in Arkansas game

Mia Oliaro

First-year forward/midfielder Mia Oliaro (22) gets ready to kick the ball during a game on Dorrance Field versus the University of Southern California on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023. The Tar Heels won 4-0.

When Mia Oliaro was growing up, her father Scott called Anson Dorrance for some advice on how his daughter should train.

The North Carolina women's soccer coach told Scott that Mia should find a wall and kick a soccer ball against it to develop leg power.

As time went on, Scott would send Dorrance progress updates — countless photos of torn-up soccer balls, their leather exteriors ripped to shreds thanks to Mia's consistent practice.

Fast-forward to Sunday, when Mia — a first-year forward for the Tar Heels — scored her first career goal on a powerful strike from outside of the box to tie the game in North Carolina’s eventual 3-1 win over Arkansas at Dorrance Field.

“I’m incredibly proud of her because that’s a first-year scoring an incredibly significant goal in her first year,” Dorrance said. “I give her full credit for her work ethic and her commitment to her own development, but also having the focus in that moment to make a difference.”

Throughout UNC's practices this season, Dorrance had to remind Oliaro to take her shots. So, with UNC trailing for the first time this year, she stared down Arkansas goalkeeper Sierra Cota-Yarde from over 20 yards away and thought, 'why not?'

After planting her foot into the ground, Oliaro swung her right leg and watched as the ball went right past Cota-Yarde's outstretched arms and into the top-left corner of the goal.

“We all were working really hard through the whole game, and it just hadn’t come yet," Oliaro said. "We had a great combination between several of us, and luckily I got the ball.”

As a Chapel Hill native, Oliaro is able to play college soccer in front of her family. Dorrance Field is roughly five miles away from where she went to high school at Chapel Hill High. She has the word 'Oreo' written in Sharpie on her wrist tape — the nickname she has for her brother, Tyler.

Oliaro's close proximity to UNC helped Dorrance recruit the former U17 US Youth National Team member and convince her to be a Tar Heel before she decided to leave home and go elsewhere. 

The results she’s produced so far have been significant. Before Sunday, she assisted on a go-ahead goal in UNC's 3-1 victory over Cal. 

“I feel blessed," Dorrance said. "I love the kid and I love the fact that she has won the right to play significant minutes in each half. Already as a first-year, she’s making an impact.”

The impact that first-years like Oliaro have had on UNC so far has been noteworthy.

Following North Carolina getting shut out in two of their first three games, the offense has bounced back to break out of its lull, scoring in three straight games. Of the 15 goals the Tar Heels have scored this year, six have come from first-years.

“I think it really shows the depth and talent on our team, we’ve had so many different goal scorers,” redshirt sophomore midfielder Ally Sentnor said. “I’m really proud of everyone for stepping up when their moment comes.”


@dthsports |

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