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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's soccer faces major roster turnover for 2024 season

UNC redshirt sophomore midfielder/forward Ally Sentnor (21) dribbles the ball during the second-round game of the NCAA women's College Cup against Alabama at the John Walker Complex in Lubbock, Texas. UNC won 1-0. Photo courtesy of Khloe Scott.

Following the North Carolina women’s soccer team’s 4-3 loss to BYU in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals 21 players have left the program by way of entering the transfer portal, going pro or graduating.

Now, with the mass exodus of 74.4 percent of the team — including 60 percent of the Tar Heels responsible for goal and assist production — head coach Anson Dorrance faces the tall task of replenishing the roster if he wants to continue his 44-year streak of making the tournament.

Among the departures are star players such as redshirt sophomore forward Ally Sentnor and first-year defender Savy King who both opted to go pro early, as well as redshirt senior defender Maycee Bell who finished her five years at North Carolina and entered the National Women's Soccer League draft. However, there are also nine players from last year’s team that are transferring from the program. 

Dorrance said after senior day that all of the seniors on the roster would either enter the draft, or transfer to a program where they’d get more playing time. This proved true, as forward Avery Patterson and midfielders Sam Meza and Talia DellaPeruta all elected to go pro while midfielder Kai Hayes and defender Paige Tolentino transferred to Baylor and N.C. State, respectively. 

Aside from the expected transfer of those two seniors, seven other players from UNC entered the portal, including two first-year players, midfielder Melina Rebimbas and forward Mia Oliaro, the No. 3 and No. 18 players in the 2023 recruiting class.

With all of the departures, the Tar Heels currently have more players leaving the program than they do staying, with just 18 players on their roster for next season, including incoming 2024 recruits. However, the players North Carolina currently has do have starting experience, with six returning players having notched a start in 2023. 

Rising sophomore midfielder Evelyn Shores carved out a starting role for herself before getting injured in the Wake Forest game and being forced to sit out the rest of the season. In addition, rising junior forward Maddie Dahlien was a key piece in Dorrance’s “Game Changer” lineup that came off of the bench, putting a shot on goal in every NCAA tournament game. Additionally, in the U-20 World Cup in 2020, Dahlien scored a hat-trick in the Group A game against Jamaica.

While Dorrance's plans to replenish over a third of North Carolina's roster from last season remains unknown, it's clear he has a long way to go before he has a full team ready for the 2024 season.