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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's soccer attendance numbers see significant spike in recent years

Chris Ducar

Chris Ducar at the UNC women's soccer game versus Duke at Wake Med Soccer Park on Friday, August 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications / Jeffrey A. Camarati. 

When Chris Ducar took over as the UNC women's soccer general manager in 2021, he said head coach Anson Dorrance asked two things of him: "build this brand and let me keep coaching until I die.”

Ducar previously served as the goalkeeper coach for 26 years under Dorrance, helping the Tar Heels win nine national championships. Now, in his third year as general manager, Ducar continues to support the team in a different capacity, working to improve gameday ticket sales and overseeing recruiting, fundraising and coordinating activities with the University.

Ducar said his goal is to make UNC the highest-attended NCAA women's soccer team in the country, and so far, he's trending in the right direction. 

‘This is the pre-World Cup'

In Ducar's first season as GM, North Carolina averaged 2,350 fans per home game, according to attendance numbers tracked by UNC. 

UNC associate athletic director Michael Beale told The Daily Tar Heel that UNC women’s soccer was second in attendance nationally last year, according to NCAA statistics tracked by UNC. 

This season, through North Carolina's first seven home games, Dorrance Field has increased its average attendance to over 3,408 fans — an increase of roughly 45 percent over the past two years.

Ducar credits this improvement to UNC's "huge investment in the community."

Ducar has reached out to local youth soccer teams, giving away free tickets to young fans in the area. He's also targeted the UNC student body with promotional nights and giveaways, incentivizing students to attend home games and leave with a free poster, t-shirt or bobblehead.

It's all part of his mission to make sure that Chapel Hill knows about the “priceless gem on campus that has won 22 national championships.” According to Ducar, another big selling point for UNC women's soccer is how many of its players go on to play on the international stage.

“What I need to let these people to know is ‘Hey, this is not the World Cup, this is the pre-World Cup,’” Ducar said. “These are the players you are going to be watching on TV for the next four, eight, twelve years."

‘Adaptive, authentic and absolutely relentless’

Several months ago, Professor Chris Mumford invited Anson Dorrance to sit in on his Shuford Sports Entrepreneurship class. Mumford said Dorrance connected with the concept of the class, and from there, the two launched a unique project for Mumford's students.

This semester, Mumford and his students are teaming up with Dorrance and Ducar to help the women's soccer team be the best in the country on the business front, too.

“Women's soccer has such an incredible following now,” Mumford, who played at UNC under Dorrance in 1985, said. “I just thought that we could hopefully provide some research and then some really clear prototypes, so they can go to the next level."

Mumford organized students into groups of three to identify the “pain points” for the women’s soccer program. The students just finished conducting preliminary research and interviewing stakeholders to pinpoint the team's needs — findings that the students will present in the following weeks.

The semester's work will culminate in a final project in which the students test a developed prototype for the women's soccer program.

Mumford noted that it was rare to find general managers and coaches who were willing to break the status quo in how they operated.

“That's what I call the triple A; adaptive, authentic and absolutely relentless,” Mumford said. “[Dorrance] has those values, and I share those values. I think it's a gift that after 27 years, we're working together in some capacity."

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But Dorrance knows he can't do it all by himself. To achieve such long-term goals, and promote the growth of women's soccer as a whole, he is looking to his former goalkeeper coach. 

"That's going to be my ambition and route into equal pay [for women's soccer]," Dorrance said. "Get someone like Chris Ducar who works his ass off to basically pack the gate for us."


@dthsports |

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated a quote from Chris Mumford, a professor who teaches a sports entrepreneurship class in UNC's Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship. In his quote, he said "pain points," not "paying points." The Daily Tar Heel has since corrected this wording and apologizes for this error.