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Tori DellaPeruta juggles time between Italian national team and UNC women's soccer

UNC sophomore forward Tori Dellaperuta (9) runs after the ball in the game against the Duke Blue Devils at Koskinen Stadium, Durham, NC, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2023. UNC tied with Duke 1-1.

In UNC soccer's top-25 matches against Virginia and Florida State in late September, Tori DellaPeruta didn't play.

In fact, she wasn't even in the United States at the time.

DellaPeruta was competing for the U23Italian national team in Italy and Sweden. DellaPeruta, who has dual Italian American citizenship, has been competing for Italy since the age of 17. 

UNC sophomore forward Tori DellaPeruta playing for the Italian National Team. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications. 

It certainly wasn't easy for Anson Dorrance and the Tar Heels to have lost a player of her caliber in the middle of a critical stretch of the season. Dorrance jokingly called it a "pain in the rear end." But the UNC head coach agrees the experience will be important for DellaPeruta — the 2021 National USA Today High School Girls Soccer Player of the Year — in the long run.

“I’m incredibly proud of the fact that Italy does want her, and they should want her," Dorrance said. "Her game has taken a big jump in the last year. She is much more consistent now and she is incredibly creative and clever, and her movement in the attacking box is professional level already.”

UNC sophomore forward Tori Dellaperuta (9) dribbles during the women’s soccer game against Wisconsin on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, at Dorrance Field. UNC tied Wisconsin 0-0.

After being gone for 10 days while competing in Europe, DellaPeruta returned to Chapel Hill and rejoined the UNC team on Sept. 27. The lessons DellaPeruta learned overseas seemed to pay off immediately. 

DellaPeruta helped the Tar Heels earn a 4-0 win against rival N.C. State in her first game back, not missing a beat and scoring in the 30th minute. 

“I’ve actually learned a lot from my international experience, more on the mental side,” DellaPeruta said. "Just go into every game with the attitude of being grateful and blessed to have the opportunity to play and just bring your heart."

While juggling going to class, playing and traveling is a balancing act for DellaPeruta, the reward is worthwhile, as she is getting international experience at only 19 years old. 

Tori has also been able to learn from her older sister, Talia DellaPeruta, who is a senior midfielder on the UNC squad and has played for the U23 U.S. national team. The relationship between the two siblings has only grown over the years despite playing on different national teams.

“It is so funny to see how much she has grown and how close we’ve gotten because of just maturity," Talia said. "We are in the same kind of chapter of our lives now." 

While the No. 1 Tar Heels are looking to extend their undefeated streak and make another deep postseason run, the DellaPeruta sisters are focused on creating lasting memories together on the field. 

"I love looking over and seeing her out on the field." Talia said. "We're out there to encourage each other and push each other and then there to pick each other back up whenever we need to.” 


@dthsports |

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