<![CDATA[The Daily Tar Heel: Sports]]> Thu, 14 Nov 2019 15:00:55 -0500 Thu, 14 Nov 2019 15:00:55 -0500 SNworks CEO 2019 The Daily Tar Heel <![CDATA[Taking a look at UNC football's matchup with Pitt on Thursday]]> Even in the deepest throes of mediocrity in recent years, the North Carolina football team has been able to find annual respite when Pittsburgh shows up on the schedule.

Since 2013, the Tar Heels have defeated the Panthers in six consecutive games. Even in 2017 and 2018 - when UNC lost to every other conference opponent - the Tar Heels got their sole ACC wins of the season when they faced off against head coach Pat Narduzzi and Pitt.

However, this season has seen sizable changes from both programs. While UNC may have already claimed three conference wins, this Pitt team has been competitive in its own right.

Here's a look at what head coach Mack Brown and his team can expect when they make the trek up to frigid Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

Keeping it close

UNC has had plenty of nail-biting affairs.

Despite winning seven out of the last eight matchups against Pitt, the Tar Heels' margin of victory in that span has only been a combined 31 points. And this season, with close losses to Clemson, Virginia Tech and Appalachian State still fresh in the minds of the Tar Heel football program, yet another close game could finally bode well for Pittsburgh.

The beauty of the bye week

Both UNC and Pittsburgh will enter Thursday night's primetime matchup with fresh legs as both teams took time off for a bye last weekend. While this gives both teams an advantage in terms of rest and strategy, Pitt entered the break on a high note after defeating Georgia Tech on Nov. 2. Conversely, the Tar Heels lost a crucial ACC game to Virginia on the same day, sending them into the bye with the anguish of defeat still fresh on their minds.

Pittsburgh's momentum as a program is undeniable - its 6-3 start to the season is a program-best dating back to 2015. Big wins over Syracuse, Duke, and No. 15 UCF headline a year in which the Panthers still have a chance to claim the Coastal Division title.

The optimism surrounding the Panthers' locker room is palpable, and the timely bye week after a strong defensive showing against Georgia Tech directly contrasts a Tar Heel program that is still seeking answers defensively after a porous 38-31 loss.

Weapons out wide

Pitt's offense has been relatively conservative thus far, only eclipsing 25 points on three occasions this year. However, the Panthers have seen success when they air the ball out to the formidable wide receiver duo of Maurice Ffrench and Taysir Mack.

Ffrench currently leads the conference in receptions with 75, and Mack is tied for fourth with 53. Their production can be stifled by underwhelming quarterback play from Kenny Pickett (9 TDs, 8 INTs), but this duo is the centerpiece of an offense that can capitalize on timely deep balls.

A battle in the trenches

Pittsburgh's defense has made a habit of tormenting opposing offensive lines with their stout defensive unit up front. The Panthers D-line is ranked second in the nation in sacks at 4.44 sacks per game. Patrick Jones II, Jaylen Twyman, and Kylan Johnson lead this menacing front line, but they are well-rounded in the trenches with eight players tallying more than one sack.

Their ability to get to the quarterback is augmented by a stout run defense that allows a mere 85.9 rushing yards per game, seventh-lowest in the nation. If Pittsburgh's big men can impose their will on a fledgling UNC offensive line, quarterback Sam Howell and running back Javonte Williams will undoubtedly struggle to put points on the board.


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UNC wide receiver Bug Howard catches the game winning touchdown with two seconds remaining in regulation against Pitt.

<![CDATA['It's who we have': Roy Williams, UNC facing unprecedented injury problems this season]]> In the first half of Friday's game against UNCW, Armando Bacot went down with an injury and didn't return.

Postgame, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said that the first-year center is being evaluated for a concussion. If he's forced to miss time, Bacot would make five Tar Heels out against Gardner-Webb on Friday.

Junior big man Sterling Manley and first-year guards Anthony Harris and Jeremiah Francis are all out with lower body injuries, with no timetable as to their respective returns, while senior guard Brandon Robinson suffered a sprained right ankle in this year's exhibition game against Winston-Salem State. All have yet to play a second for North Carolina in 2019-20.

When asked if he's ever had to face an injury bug this vicious, Williams kept it simple.

"No," he said.

Against the Seahawks, Williams used just seven players in meaningful game time, while four Tar Heels played 32 or more minutes. That lack of depth would test any coach, but it's likely even worse for Williams, who makes a point of turning to his bench early and often.

"I can play eight or nine, easily, and sometimes even 10, and give them enough minutes, enough playing time that they're satisfied with it, but you've got to have depth in this game," he said.

Without that depth, UNC has been forced to lean on the talents of a small few to carry the load offensively. First-year guard Cole Anthony had 34 points in the season opener against Notre Dame. He also had a game-high 20 against UNCW, while forwards Justin Pierce and Garrison Brooks both added 18.

Against the Irish, though, only Brooks, who had 10 points, and Anthony cracked double digits. Their teammates know that won't cut it.

"Cole had a monster night (against Notre Dame), and we know we can't rely on that for us to be successful," Pierce said after the UNCW game.

In both of UNC's first two games, Anthony jacked 24 shots and played an average of more than 36 minutes.

"He said, 'Coach, I'm ready to go 40,'" Williams said after Notre Dame. "I don't want him to do that very often, to say the least."

If this were the NBA, the Tar Heels would be in big trouble, but seeing as North Carolina never plays more than three times in a week, Williams should look to lean heavily on Anthony while his other players work to make it back to the court. This offseason, those in the program raved about the star first-year's superb conditioning; early in the season - likely Anthony's only one in Chapel Hill before going pro - his conditioning will be put to the test.

As for when UNC's injured players could see the court? Williams isn't sure, but he doesn't see the problem going away anytime soon.

"I think it is going to be something we have to deal with all season and it concerns us a great deal, but they don't let us go out and draft and there's no list that we can take anybody off the waiver list," Williams said. "It's who we have."


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<![CDATA[Tar Heels in the Pros: Trubisky bounces back and Ebron struggles in NFL Week 10]]> Week 10 of the NFL season was another entertaining one for football fans, with Lamar Jackson impressing, the Saints falling to the lowly Falcons and a last-minute Monday win for the Seahawks and Russell Wilson.

And for better or for worse, there were a couple of former North Carolina football players that stood out from the pack.

First, Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears got back on the right track with a 20-13 win against the Detroit Lions. It was certainly Trubisky's best game of the season in what's been an otherwise disappointing campaign for the third-year quarterback.

Currently, the Bears QB is ranked 25th out of 33 eligible quarterbacks with an 85.2 QB rating, and while he's missed two games this season, he's tied for 28th in passing touchdowns with only eight.

Other quarterbacks with the same number? Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill, the latter of whom has only played in six games this year.

Last week, Trubisky made comments about trying to block out criticism by having TVs in the Bears' practice facility turned off.

On Sunday, the former Tar Heel had a lot of proving to do, and he did it, though his performance came against a subpar Detroit team without starter QB Matthew Stafford. Against the Lions, Trubisky threw three touchdowns and completed 69.6 percent of his passes, securing 173 passing yards and not turning the ball over once.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron also had a noteworthy performance on Sunday, but with less than desirable results.

Like Trubisky, Ebron was under critical eye after telling reporters he met with Colts head coach Frank Reich and lobbied for a bigger role in the offense.

"It's week 8, about that turning point when things are a little more serious, things are a little more real,'' Ebron said. "It's only right that you play your best players, and we try to win as many games as we can.''

Without starting QB Jacoby Brissett and two of the team's top offensive threats, T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell, Reich and the Colts were prepared for Ebron to take on the responsibility he asked for.

But Ebron was targeted 12 times by backup QB Brian Hoyer and hauled in just five of them. One of them was a potential touchdown reception that was instead ripped from Ebron's hands and intercepted by Miami Dolphins defensive back Steven Parker.

After having a breakout year in 2018, Ebron's encore has been pretty lackluster.

Prior to the game against Miami, Ebron had 18 catches for 248 yards and three touchdowns in eight games, as compared to his first eight games last year where he had 36 catches, 394 yards and seven touchdowns. Ebron has currently been involved in 42.2 percent of the Colts' snaps this season after playing 55.81 percent in the 2018 season.

Despite trying 2019 seasons, both Trubisky and Ebron will look to finish the season strong and bounce back by the time the 2020 season rolls around.


@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

<![CDATA[Expect lots of defense and cold in UNC football's matchup against Pittsburgh]]> The North Carolina football team, simply put, has Pittsburgh's number. They have beaten the Panthers six times in a row - but that could be set to change Thursday night when the Tar Heels go on the road to face their conference foe.

The Panthers are led by head coach Pat Narduzzi, who is one of the best defensive minds in football. And that's shown on the field, as Pitt is ranked ninth in the country in yards allowed per game and second in sacks.

"The caliber of talent that we see on the defensive side, it really just reminds me of the way we prepared for the Clemson game," offensive coordinator Phil Longo said.

The Panthers defense has a clear strategy in every game. They sell out on stopping the run and make the other team beat them through the air.

Longo said he is very wary of the Pittsburgh run defense, but that North Carolina is still going to have to move the ball on the ground if it wants to win. Having sophomore running back Javonte Williams in full health this week should help with that.

"This is a very physical defense," Longo said. "They're very physical up front, I think they're a lot better than they were last year. They pursue well, they stay home, they don't give up a lot of trick plays, they don't make a lot of mental mistakes."

Still, it's likely that could be the perfect night for first-year quarterback Sam Howell to show off his skills against single coverage.

But UNC's offensive line will need to protect him to give him time against a formidable Panther defensive line.

"The challenge is protection," Brown said. "They really rush the passer well and they do it by scheming a lot … We can't end up in second and long or third and long."

Giving Howell time is the key for the UNC offense. The first-year QB will be able to make plays in the passing game, but the Tar Heels can't be forced to make long plays as often as they were against Virginia. In nine games, UNC has given up 29 sacks, but when Howell has had time to operate, he's been exceptional.

The Panthers have all the trademarks of a team that is led by a defensive-minded head coach - even in their offense.

"Coach Narduzzi, I've known him for a long time, I have a lot of respect for him," defensive coordinator Jay Bateman said. "You see a defensive-minded coach's influence on their offense. They're gonna bring an extra O-lineman, they're gonna try to run power."

Thursday night's matchup has all of the makings of a low-scoring, pound-it-out game. In addition to a tough Panthers defense, the Tar Heels will also be facing another opponent for the first time this season - cold weather, with a high of 45 in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Head coach Mack Brown, though, is embracing the challenge. If his team gets a win against the Panthers, it would all but guarantee a bowl appearance for 4-5 UNC, with FCS opponent Mercer next on the schedule.

The Tar Heels will brave the elements with as much at stake as they've had all season.

"It's gonna be really cold," Brown said. "We're lucky it's gonna be 30 degrees here tomorrow and 16 mile per hour winds, so we'll probably practice outside and let them get ready to go to Pitt. We'll say, 'Welcome to Pittsburgh.'"


@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

<![CDATA[With Bailey and Koenen, UNC women's basketball towers over Navy in 80-40 win]]> Even before the opening tip, it was clear that the North Carolina women's basketball team already held a significant advantage over its opponent: size.

With Navy's tallest player that stepped on the court only reaching an even six feet, the Tar Heels towered over the Midshipmen at nearly every position. North Carolina has seven players on its roster that are at least as tall as Navy's largest player that saw minutes.

Needless to say, UNC used this height difference to its advantage early and often in a convincing 80-40 win on Monday.

The inside-out play from senior guard Taylor Koenen and 6-foot-4 junior forward Janelle Bailey served as a perfect illustration of this strategy. Overpowering the Midshipmen in the post opened up shots on the wings and propelled North Carolina to its second win of the season.

In this Veterans Day matchup, it was the veteran play of those two Tar Heels that helped lead UNC to victory.

"These are two kids that all they care about is winning. They're a huge piece of what we're doing," Courtney Banghart, the team's new head coach, said. "We felt like if the ball started in Taylor's hands and ended in Janelle's hands, we'd be in good shape."

The Tar Heels followed that game plan to a tee. With Koenen running the show, North Carolina was able to work the ball inside to Bailey and the other forwards, in turn opening up shots on the outside.

As a 6-foot-2 guard, Koenen stood two inches taller than the Midshipmen's tallest player in Monday night's game, giving her an advantage anywhere on the court. The senior used her height at every level: posting up, shooting midrange jump shots over defenders and utilizing a high release from beyond the three-point line.

"Scoring at all three levels, it's hard to guard someone like that," Koenen said.

Koenen seemed to score effortlessly throughout the game. By the end of the third quarter, she had tied her career high for points with 21, but said she wasn't concerned with the stats.

"I actually didn't know how many points I had. It's never about that," Koenen said. "My teammates just did a really good job finding me. And like Coach said, we knew the game plan. It was all about getting the W."

Koenen acknowledged the impact UNC's size advantage had on the Tar Heels' success in the game, both on her personal performance and the performance of her teammates.

"I think it was huge," Koenen said. "We looked inside to Janelle and Malu (Tshitenge), and we also posted me up. By doing that, it then opened it up for the guards to shoot threes, which we're very good at too. I think we did a really good job playing the high-low."

Bailey had another monster outing in her second game of the season, posting her second double-double in a row with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

As one of only two returning players that averaged double-digit points last year, Bailey knows that she's going to have to step up even more if the Tar Heels are going to succeed this season.

Similarly to Koenen, though, she said she wasn't concerned with her personal numbers.

"I know it's what my team needs me to do, so I just have to keep going," Bailey said. "I try not to probe in so much on the points. We weren't really good with rebounding last year, so that's really my main focus. I feel like the scoring will come. Even if it's not from me, we have so many people who can get the job done."

A lot of the responsibility will fall on Bailey as a leader and producer for the team, but her confidence hasn't wavered in her new role so far.

"No pressure," Bailey said. "No pressure at all."


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<![CDATA[Tar Heel football seniors aim to finish strong as they take on Pitt Thursday]]> During North Carolina football's practice on Sunday, head coach Mack Brown lost his cool.

Brown felt a few first-year players were not giving it their all in preparation for the team's Thursday night tilt with Pittsburgh.

"'You're gonna be a senior one day, and you're gonna ask the rest of the guys to play for you because you want your senior year to be special,'" he told them. "'You're gonna remember it the rest of your life. And here you are laying down and being lazy, and not creating an edge for practice.'"

UNC sits at 4-5 and needs to win two of its final three games to be bowl eligible. Those seniors, who have been on a rollercoaster journey in their time with the program, need their younger teammates to play for them more than ever.

The group went 8-5 in 2016 as first years, playing on a team that was a year removed from an ACC Championship game appearance. Some - like defensive lineman Jason Strowbridge and offensive lineman Nick Polino - were redshirts on the 2015 team.

But the past two seasons have had more valleys than peaks: players suspended for selling team-issued sneakers in 2018, nine-loss seasons the last two years and the firing of head coach Larry Fedora last November.

This year, the return of Brown has helped the program rise back to respectability.

"It's been really fun to do it with the guys you came in with, be a senior class that's been able to start back on the trend of where we want to be," Polino said Monday. "We still gotta finish strong."

UNC's five losses have been by a combined 19 points. Though there have been inevitable growing pains, the considerable struggles of Tar Heel football are, for the most part, no more.

Strowbridge, who watched from the sideline his first year in Chapel Hill as UNC won 11 games, sees similarities in the locker room culture of this year's group and the one of the 2015 Tar Heels.

The 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive end says when he arrived on campus in the fall of that year, he saw older players leading by example, "creating good habits."

"We know what it looks like from when we first came in," Strowbridge said. "Things didn't go our way the last couple years, but we know what to do. We know what it looks like."

Knowing the habits that lead to a winning culture has helped Strowbridge and Polino set that example for their teammates. They, along with Brown, have emphasized a win-now mentality while trying to pave the way for a successful future for the program.

"Just kinda doing whatever we can just to get back on track to where we want to be and set an example for the young guys to keep it going in the future," Polino said.

And after a bye last week, the Tar Heels have refocused on their mission to send their senior class out the right way.

A win at Pittsburgh on Thursday would mark the program's seventh consecutive victory over the Panthers. It would also almost guarantee a bowl berth in Brown's first season back, as UNC will face a below-.500 Mercer squad on senior night next week.

"Everything the next three weeks is for them to try to finish a lot better than they have the last two years," Brown said.

Strowbridge could not agree more.

"With everything we've been through," he said, "it's only right we just finish strong."


@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

<![CDATA[Previewing the field for UNC women's soccer in the NCAA Tournament]]> Just a day after the North Carolina women's soccer team won its 22nd ACC Championship, the seeding for the NCAA Tournament is out.

UNC, awarded one of the four No. 1 seeds, will face Belmont in the first round of the tournament. The Bruins went 8-8-5 and 4-4-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Belmont won the OVC Championship this year against SIU Edwardsville in penalty kicks.

The Tar Heels have not yet faced any of the teams in their bracket this season, but matched up with several in 2018. North Carolina tied Texas 1-1, who is matched up with Texas A&M in the first round, and lost to Santa Clara 0-1, who is now matched up against California.

UNC has experience with the other No. 1 seeds in the tournament: Florida State, Virginia and Stanford.

North Carolina served the Cavaliers their first loss of the season this year with an overtime goal by Alessia Russo in the ACC Championship on Sunday.

In 2018, UNC faced Florida State a total of three times, once in the regular season and then in the ACC and NCAA Championship games, and lost both times in the postseason. This year, the Tar Heels got their revenge, downing the Seminoles 2-0 in a regular season match in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina hasn't matched up against Stanford since last year, when the Cardinals defeated UNC 2-1 in one of only two regular season losses for the Tar Heels in 2018.

UNC will enter the tournament with one of the best defenses in the country. The Tar Heels recorded 16 shutouts in 2019, the most in the country, and allowed just eight goals to be scored in 20 games. That figure is good for second in the nation in shutout percentage at .762.

The team is also ranked eighth in scoring offense, with 54 goals on the season and an average of 2.57 per game. The Tar Heels spread the wealth and have plenty of weapons - no player is ranked in the top 50 nationally in total goals and only one, sophomore midfielder Brianna Pinto, is in the top 100 with 10 goals.

Russo, the Tar Heels second-leading goal scorer, went through a dry spell in the entire month of October before ripping two in the ACC semifinals against N.C. State, then the game-winner against Virginia.

Going into the tournament, 13 different players have scored for North Carolina this season, and six have registered four or more goals. The equal-opportunity offense leaves UNC ranked ninth in total assists with 49, averaging 2.33 per game.

If the Tar Heels were to make it back to the College Cup, the soccer equivalent of the Final Four, it would be their second year in a row, after making it all the way to the championship game before falling to Florida State.


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Junior forward Alessia Russo (19) charges in the ACC women's soccer semifinal match on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 against NC State at WakeMed Soccer Park. UNC beat NC State 3-0.

<![CDATA[Tar Heels sail past Navy, 80-40, behind Janelle Bailey's 20 points]]> The North Carolina women's basketball team took advantage of an undersized Navy team en route to an 80-40 blowout victory in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels were led by junior forward Janelle Bailey and senior guard Taylor Koenen on Monday night.

What happened?

UNC (2-0) set the tone early by feeding Bailey and first-year forward Malu Tshitenge in the post and asserting its dominance down low against the Midshipmen (2-1). With just 5:40 remaining in the first quarter, Bailey and Tshitenge had combined for six of North Carolina's first 13 points.

The attention that those two required allowed space to open up for UNC's guards. Redshirt senior guard Madinah Muhammad scored 11 points in the first quarter to lead all scorers. Koenen was also able to benefit, going for 6 points in the first quarter.

By the end of the first quarter, it looked like the Tar Heels were going to run away with the game as they maintained a 29-9 lead and didn't show any signs of slowing down.

It was more of the same in the second quarter as North Carolina stretched its lead to 48-19 before halftime. Muhammad went quiet, but Bailey continued to shine.

The junior increased her point total to 14 by the break to lead all scorers. Koenen also impressed, bringing her total up to 12 points.

The rout continued in the second half. However, it was Koenen that showed out for the Tar Heels this time.

The senior matched her career-high 21 points after just three quarters. She was lights out, shooting 9-13 from the field before being pulled out of the game.

UNC led against Navy, 69-25, after three quarters and began to put in its subs.

In the fourth quarter, North Carolina's backups got some playing time. The reserves closed out the game for UNC with junior Leah Church, first-year Lexi Duckett and first-year Nia Daniel scoring three points each.

The Tar Heels would go on to win against the Midshipmen, 80-40.

Who stood out?

With the incredible height advantage, Bailey dominated. The 6-foot-4 center recorded 20 points and 15 rebounds mostly against a Navy starting lineup that didn't feature a single player over 5-foot-10.

Koenen also benefited from the defense trying to guard the post. The senior tied her career-high, scoring 21 points in just three quarters.

Muhammad had a solid game as well, with the redshirt senior scoring 13 points.

When was it decided?

This game was pretty much over before it started. The Tar Heels showed they were the superior team from the jump and never trailed.

UNC was up by 20 points at the end of the first quarter and stretched that to as much as 29 later in the first half.

Why does it matter?

North Carolina is winning the games that it should be. The team's new head coach, Courtney Banghart, is off to a dream start through two games, winning by an average of 38.5 points.

UNC will look to continue its strong play during a couple more winnable games in the near future.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels are back in action against Charleston Southern in Carmichael Arena at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15.


@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

<![CDATA[Assessing UNC field hockey's NCAA tournament outlook after ACC postseason title]]> When the North Carolina field hockey team trumped Boston College in the ACC Tournament final on Sunday, it preserved a second-straight perfect season.

Now, starting Friday, the Tar Heels will look to finish the job.

UNC will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament this weekend, and look to follow up a 23-0 national championship campaign in 2018 with another flawless year in 2019. This season, the top-ranked Tar Heels have already knocked off seven other members of the top 10 based on RPI - Virginia, Duke, Louisville (twice), Boston College (twice), Syracuse, Princeton and Iowa - and will be the tournament's No. 1 overall seed for the second-straight year.

In the first round, the Tar Heels will play the winner of a Wednesday play-in game between Stanford and Miami of Ohio. Should UNC win that game, which will be Friday at noon, Karen Shelton's squad will then take on the winner of Duke-Iowa on Sunday. The winner of that matchup will advance to Winston-Salem, N.C. and the NCAA semifinals the following weekend.

"Nobody has an easy bracket," Shelton told GoHeels. "We wouldn't expect our path to be easy, nor would we want it to be. We're just going to focus on our next game, against either Stanford or Miami. We hope we can take what we learned this weekend and apply it when we play on Friday."

Six of the top eight field hockey teams in the country are in the ACC, so winning the conference tournament is nothing to sneeze at. North Carolina beat Louisville and Boston College by identical scores of 3-1 to capture their third conference title in a row and the 22nd in program history.

The Tar Heels got there on the backs of a number of veteran leaders, plus sophomore standout Erin Matson.

Matson was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year after posting team-highs in goals (24) and assists (15) for UNC, despite missing multiple games while playing for the national team in India. UNC's next four highest point scorers - Marissa Creatore, Catherine Hayden, Yentl Leemans and Megan DuVernois - are all seniors.

North Carolina's defense has been stout all year, too, holding opponents to just 19 goals all season for an average of exactly one goal per game. Leemans, a midfielder, won the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year award, helping the Tar Heels to six shutout wins this season.

As mentioned, Virginia and Louisville, two of the other top three seeds in the NCAA tournament, are a combined 0-3 against UNC this season. The team that could end up posing the most problems for UNC? UConn.

The second-seeded Huskies are 18-3 on the season and breezed through their conference schedule, going 7-0 in the Big East and capturing the postseason conference title with a 2-0 win over Old Dominion. UConn senior Svea Boker leads the team with 20 goals and is third on the team with 13 assists, playing in all 21 games.

It seems fitting that the Tar Heels' potential national title matchup, to finish off back-to-back undefeated seasons and send UNC's seniors off with another championship, could see them looking for a win over an eighth - yes, eighth - different team currently ranked in the top 10.


@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

<![CDATA[Daavettila caps off season with Oracle ITA Fall National Championship singles title]]> The North Carolina women's tennis team concluded play at the Oracle ITA Fall National Championship in Newport Beach, California, on Sunday when senior Sara Daavettila captured the singles title in two sets with victories of 7-6 (5) and 6-1 during the final match.

What happened?

In singles competition, North Carolina started the competition 4-0 on Wednesday, highlighted by Daavettila's win with scores of 6-1 and 6-3 in the first round. Senior Alexa Graham also won her first round decisively with scores of 6-2 and 6-1, and sophomore Cameron Morra won convincingly with scores of 6-1 in both sets. With scores of 6-1, 6-3, junior Alle Sanford advanced as well.

In doubles competition, the duo of Daavettila and Graham lost their round, 7-6 (6) and 7-6 (5). However, the pairing of senior Makenna Jones and Morra made a comeback to advance in doubles, 0-6, 6-1, 10-7.

By the end of Thursday's matches, three Tar Heels had advanced to the round of 16. Graham won her match, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, after being forced to a tiebreaker third set. Similar to her first round, Daavettila quickly won her match, 6-2, 6-3. Morra cruised to victory as well when she won both of her sets by a score of 6-1.

Sanford was the lone singles player for UNC to fall in the second round, losing in three sets, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.

The duo of Jones and Morra reached the doubles quarterfinals after winning in back-to-back sets, 6-2, 6-4, on Thursday. After losing on Wednesday, the duo Daavettila and Graham competed in the consolation doubles bracket on Thursday, winning their first match, 6-0, 6-3.

North Carolina lost two of its remaining three players in singles competition on Friday. After winning the first set, Graham was bested in her matchup with Haley Giavara of California, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Morra was defeated in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Daavettila won her match in the round of 16 with scores of 6-4 and 6-3 and advanced to the semifinals behind a three-set victory in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

In the doubles quarterfinals, Morra and Jones lost their matchup in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4. The duo of Daavettila and Graham advanced to the semifinals of the consolation doubles bracket with a victory of 6-0 in the first set, and the retirement of Oklahoma State's Dariya Detkovskaya and Bunyawi Thamchaiwat in the second set. The UNC pair went on to lose in back-to-back sets during the semifinals, 7-5, 6-4.

Daavettila won her singles semifinals match on Saturday in a three-set victory. After dropping the first set, the senior stormed back, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, to punch her ticket to the final. From there, Daavettila was able to avenge an October loss to Texas' Anna Turati when the two met in the finals of this tournament. Despite a close first set, Daavettila was victorious in straight sets, 7-6 (5), 6-1.

Who stood out?

Daavettila picked up major wins en route to claiming the singles competition title on Sunday afternoon. In the semifinals, she defeated Miami's Estela Perez-Somarriba, the 2019 NCAA Singles Champion, and secured a win over No. 8 Anna Rogers of N.C. State in the second round.

In addition to winning the main draw, the senior was also honored with the ITA Sportsmanship Award for outstanding demeanor on and off the court.

When was it decided?

On Sunday afternoon, Daavettila won in a two-game set to claim the championship, fighting through an evenly-matched first set to earn a narrow 7-6 (5) victory. Once the senior jumped out to a strong lead in the second set, it became clear that she wasn't going to settle for anything less than the championship.

Why does it matter?

For Daavettila, the win on Sunday was her sixth singles victory in the tournament, with five coming against top-50 ranked players. Head coach Brian Kalbas said that Daavettila never lost her confidence in tough situations.

When do they play next?

The women's tennis team won't play again until the spring season starts on Saturday, Jan. 11, when the Tar Heels face Elon in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at 11 a.m.


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<![CDATA[UNC volleyball tied for fourth in ACC after 3-0 win over Wake Forest]]> The North Carolina volleyball team (13-11, 10-4 ACC) swept Wake Forest (11-14, 1-13 ACC) on Sunday afternoon, extending UNC's win streak to three games while handing the Demon Deacons their 11th straight loss.

What happened?

Early in the first set, both teams were evenly matched, tied at 7-7 before UNC went on a 5-1 run and never looked back. From aces and clean sets to strong blocks and kills, the Tar Heels had solid contributions from everyone and took the first set 25-19.

The second set started similarly, with Wake Forest and UNC trading points until 15-all, where North Carolina then went on a 3-0 run, eventually going up 22-18. The set ended 25-20 on a successful challenge call by North Carolina, and they took a commanding 2-0 lead.

In the third set, the Tar Heels stepped out to an early 4-0 lead and forced a timeout by the Demon Deacons. Both teams battled hard, but North Carolina proved to be the best team and they secured the victory 25-21.

Wake Forest's .149 hitting percentage for the match is a mark of how good North Carolina's defense is and how the players have really started to hit their strides.

"We're delighted about the 3-0 result," said head coach Joe Sagula. "For us right now to be able to sustain our level of play in the grind of the season and to come out with a win I think is really good. I'm really proud of the team."

Who stood out?

A lot of Tar Heels stood out on Sunday. Parker Austin led the team with 13 kills and added three blocks, Skyy Howard had seven kills and Destiny Cox had six kills.

However, the biggest story was the return of defensive specialist Mia Fradenburg after missing three games due to injury. She came back and instantly boosted the team's play with outstanding numbers of 16 digs and two service aces.

"The other big thing about today was the return of Mia Fradenburg," Sagula said. "She played great, served really effectively and really was an anchor for us passing. She really did a fantastic job"

When was it decided?

After going up two sets to nothing, North Carolina held a firm advantage. The Deacons at one point cut the lead to just on in the third set, but were unable to every go ahead of the Tar Heels before the last set was finished by a kill by Howard.

Why does it matter?

This win was significant because it puts UNC in a four-way tie for second place in the ACC along with Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Florida State. After starting off the season 1-7, North Carolina is now on a 12-4 tear and Sagula believes this team is really coming together thanks to the growth of the team and leadership from seniors.

"The leadership provided by Mia Fradenburg, Katharine Esterley and the rest of our seniors Skylar Wine and Greer Moseman, they came every day setting the tone for practice and allowed our team to believe that if we stay with it, we'll get things going," Sagula said.

"So many people have contributed, and during that time we've had as much as 11 different people make big contributions to the success of this team. You can't say it's resting on one or two people. It has been a lot of people who have emerged and grown and matured and it's great to see that for now and the future."

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels play a conference match against Florida State next Sunday at 1 p.m. in Tallahassee, Florida.


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Libero Mia Fradenburg (13) passes the ball during Friday's game against Boston College.

<![CDATA[Alessia Russo's goal in double overtime propels UNC women's soccer to ACC Championship]]> CARY, N.C. - There is a reason that Alessia Russo wears the number 19 on her jersey.

Worn by both Mia Hamm and Crystal Dunn during their time with the North Carolina women's soccer team, the number had been long retired when Russo arrived at UNC. By offering it to her, head coach Anson Dorrance was making an implicit promise to the world - she will earn this. She will be great.

After Russo scored the game-winning goal in double-overtime against previously unbeaten No. 1 Virginia in the ACC Championship game - winning MVP of the ACC Tournament for the second time in her career in the process - consider that promise fulfilled.

It happened after over 100 minutes of play, with a ball sent over the top by junior defender/midfielder Emily Fox that Russo had to beat UVA's Zoe Morse to.

From there, the Kent, England native cut to her left, then immediately cut back to her right to turn around Talia Staude of the Cavaliers. That was before her right foot sent a rocket into the far left post, out of the outstretched arms of Virginia goalie Michaela Moran to end the game.

"I don't really remember it, to be honest," Russo said of her goal. "It was a fight, and we knew that Virginia was a tough team coming into the game. They were No. 1 for a reason and unbeaten for a reason. We knew it could go to overtime or even PKs, but we fought till the end."

Russo's goal was a statement about her own career, but the win on Sunday was a statement for the entire women's soccer team.

"It was a big stage and an opportunity to prove ourselves, and I think that's what we did," first-year defender Maycee Bell said.

The win was the first time UNC has defeated a No. 1 team since 2012, when a then-No. 14 North Carolina team defeated Stanford in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament en route to the program's last national championship.

This iteration of the Tar Heels has been here before, though just without Russo. They made it to the ACC Championship game last year against Florida State, down their injured star forward and Fox, one of the team's best defenders who was away with the U.S. Women's National Team in Europe.

"We were without, as you can see, two incredibly classy players," Dorrance said. "These were not ordinary players that weren't with us."

Against Virginia, there was no handicap. Despite that, the Cavaliers had multiple opportunities to go up in the game and rob Russo of the chance for a game-winner.

A shot by Rebecca Jarrett, who earlier in the tournament scored a golden goal for Virginia against FSU, nearly ended the game in the first overtime, hitting the far post and popping up dangerously in North Carolina's box.

It was the type of fluke play that cost UNC the national championship in 2018, when a deflected ball ended with the only goal of the match for Florida State.

Unlike last year, there was no heartbreaking goal off a chance play. And - perhaps more importantly - unlike last year, Russo is healthy for UNC.

The Tar Heels redeemed their loss in the ACC Championship last year. All that's left is to do it again in the next leg of the postseason.

"It's a new season, and it's hopefully time to put things right," Russo said. "We've been working so hard since the Final Four (last year). We kind of drew a line under it, and it's a new season and it's a new group of girls. We're ready to go attack the NCAA Tournament."


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Junior forward Alessia Russo (19) charges in the ACC women's soccer semifinal match on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 against NC State at WakeMed Soccer Park. UNC beat NC State 3-0.

<![CDATA[First-year Maycee Bell helps UNC defeat top-ranked Virginia in ACC championship ]]> CARY, N.C. - Maycee Bell had been hearing it since December.

Though the first-year defender wasn't officially a Tar Heel at the time, she understood the importance of the soccer team's self-dubbed 'revenge tour'. After coming up short last year against Florida State in both the ACC Championship game and the NCAA title game, one word has been on the team's mind: revenge.

When her older teammates let her know of the devastating losses, Bell, the ACC Freshman of the Year, made it clear that she was already well-aware.

"I was at the championship game when we lost," Bell said. "I wasn't on the team, but I just felt every emotion that they felt … They just told me that you can't take any game for granted, and that we have to keep going for every game and fight every minute."

And that's exactly what Bell did this past Sunday during the ACC Championship final against top-ranked Virginia. It helped the Tar Heels slide by the Cavaliers 2-1 in double-overtime, winning the program's 22nd conference title.

It was the largest stage of Bell's young collegiate career. Still, she remembered not to take any moment, any possession or any play for granted.

In the sixth minute of the match, as junior defender Lotte Wubben-Moy sent a corner kick flying just outside the penalty box, Bell saw her opportunity. The 5-foot-11 defender soared up between two UVA defenders and used the side of her head to sneak the ball right past the right shoulder of goalkeeper Laurel Ivory, putting the Tar Heels on the board first.

"Before the game, (head coach Anson Dorrance) challenged me to go up when the ball's in the corner," Bell said. "So I just took the challenge, and it was awesome."

Dorrance, a National Soccer Hall of Fame coach, couldn't help but chuckle as he stood beside Bell, who is one of five of his players selected to the ACC All-Tournament Team.

"Gosh, I wish it was that simple all the time," Dorrance said.

Her header was UNC's lone goal of regulation. It was the reason the Tar Heels were able to take the Cavaliers to overtime after UVA first-year forward Diana Ordonez scored in the 68th minute. There, junior forward Alessia Russo drilled the game-winner.

When Bell, a Wichita, Kansas, native, first arrived in Chapel Hill, Dorrance did something he'd never done in his 43 years with UNC soccer: give a first-year a starting role from the first scrimmage.

Dorrance made sure to note that even names like Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly had to fight their way into his starting lineup as first-years. Not Bell, though. Something about her was different.

"I'm not coaching her as a college player. I'm coaching her as a future U.S. full national team and Olympic starter," Dorrance said. "That's how good she is."

That explains why Dorrance felt confident enough to challenge Bell before the match to be aggressive on corner kicks. It also explains why Bell wasn't just ready for this moment -she was eager for it.

"I honestly was really looking forward to it," Bell said of playing Virginia. "It was a big stage, and an opportunity to prove ourselves, and I think that's what we did."

Bell knew she could help her team get back to the big games after she witnessed her team suffer that heartbreaking loss to the Seminoles last season.

And on Sunday, it showed.

"You're seeing the embryonic future full-team star," Dorrance said. "So enjoy it while she's here with us."


@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

First-year Maycee Bell (25) heads the ball during the ACC finals game on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019 at WakeMed Soccer Park. UNC beat Virginia 2-1.

<![CDATA[UNC field hockey handles Boston College, captures third straight ACC championship]]> The No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team (19-0, 6-0 acc) defeated Boston College (13-7, 4-2 ACC) 3-1 on Sunday to preserve a perfect season and capture the team's third ACC title in a row.

What happened?

The Tar Heels took the lead in the 12th minute off of a goal from Marrisa Creatore. The senior forward redirected a ball sent by sophomore Erin Matson past the goalkeeper and into the cage.

Boston College evened up the score 30 minutes later. Junior forward Jaime Natale got herself wide open right in front of the cage. She received a great pass from junior Elizabeth Warner and hit a one-timer for the goal.

The game remained tied until a fourth-quarter goal from senior midfielder Yentl Leemans, which gave UNC the lead once again. North Carolina took advantage after a Boston College yellow card gave the team an extra attacker. It would score a goal during that time span. During a penalty corner, Matson delivered a terrific behind-the-back pass to set Leemans up with a golden opportunity that she calmly converted.

The Tar Heels would extend their lead to two when Creatore got her second goal of the game. She stole the ball from a Boston College player and knocked it into the back corner of the cage to seal the win.

The Eagles almost responded with a quick goal on a corner, but the score was immediately waived off by the referee because the ball sailed too high.

UNC held on the rest of the way to seal the victory.

Who stood out?

The seniors came up huge for the Tar Heels, masking the most out of their final ACC Championship game.

The ones that had the biggest impact were Creatore and Leemans.Creatore got two of the three UNC goals, including the one that put the game out of reach.

Leemans also had a key goal for her team. She scored the game-winning goal, a feat she also accomplished during North Carolina's 3-2 win against the Eagles on Oct. 25.

When was it decided?

The ten-minute North Carolina player advantage proved to be a big turning point in the game. The Tar Heels cashed in with a game-deciding goal, taking away any momentum that Boston College had and shifted it back to their side.

From there, another goal was icing on the cake for UNC and helped continue the nation's longest winning streak.

Why does it matter?

Coming off a hard-fought battle in the two teams' regular season matchup, Sunday's championship game was expected to be close.

UNC had to play the Eagles at their home stadium that was filled to capacity. They also had to deal with the frigid weather in Newton, Pennsylvania. However, the Tar Heels did not let the pressure get to them.

Appearing in their fifth straight conference championship, their experience clearly showed competing against a team vying for its first ever ACC title.

The Tar Heels' 3-1 victory earned them their 22nd conference title in program history.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels have locked in a bid for the NCAA tournament, and now await the results of the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday at 10 p.m. They will almost assuredly be the No. 1 overall seed, and will look to complete a second straight perfect season and win back-to-back national championships.


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<![CDATA[Kiger and Soendergaard highlight weekend for UNC men's tennis]]> The North Carolina men's tennis team wrapped up their fall schedule with the 2019 ITA Oracle Fall National Championships in Newport Beach, California and at the Wake Forest Fall Invitational this weekend.

What happened?

Junior Mac Kiger and senior Simon Soendergaard earned invitations to the ITA Fall Nationals after winning the ITA Regional title. Senior Josh Peck was also invited after reaching the semifinal of the ITA Regional and is ranked No. 50 in the ITA rankings.

KigerandSoendergaardopened the tournament on Wednesday by upsetting the No. 1 seed of the event, Columbia's JackLin and JackieTang, who won the ITA Fall All-American Championship last month.

The Tar Heels dropped the first set 6-7, but rallied in the final sets to win 6-3 and 1-0 and advance to the second round of the tournament on Thursday.

In the second round, Kiger and Soendergaard came up against Memphis's David Stevenson and Oscar Cutting, who they defeated in three sets. They won the first set 6-4, dropped the second set 3-6, and won the third by 1-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of the event on Friday.

In their quarterfinal matchup, Kiger and Soendergaard faced Ryan Dickerson and MatiasSoto of Baylor, who they defeated in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, to advance to the semifinals on Saturday.

Waiting for Kiger and Soendergaard in their semifinal matchup was the eighth seed of Robert Cash and John McNally of Ohio State. There, the Tar Heels were knocked out of the tournament, dropping in three sets 4-6, 6-0 and 1-0.

In singles, Peck lost his first match in the singles bracket to No. 44 Sven Lah of Baylor 6-3, 6-3. He then faced Mississippi State's Gregor Ramskogler in the consolation draw, where he fell 6-2, 5-7, 7-6.

Back in North Carolina, two Tar Heels competed in the Wake Forest Fall Invitational. Ladd Harrison and Mark Dillon competed in the singles bracket and competed together in the doubles bracket.

Harrison reached the final of his singles bracket, defeating Richmond's John Walsh, Radford's Rodrigo Magalhaes, and Mercer's Hugo Lobo in route to the final where he faced Coastal's Daiki Tanabe. Ladd was swept in two sets, losing 7-5, 6-4.

In Dillon's first singles match, he faced Wofford's Bryce Keim, which he fell 6-3, 6-4.

In their first matchup in the doubles bracket, Harrison and Dillon lost 6-4 by Tennessee Tech University.

Who stood out?

Kiger and Soendergaard's upset of the top-seeded doubles team at the ITA Fall Nationals was the Tar Heels' most impressive performance of the weekend, as well as their run to the semifinals.

Why does it matter?

Kiger and Soendergaard's loss in the semifinals came at the hands of Ohio State. The Tar Heels defeated the Buckeyes last season in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, when the Buckeyes held the No. 1 ranking.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will be back in action in January to begin their spring indoor schedule.


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Sophomore Simon Soendergaard celebrates during an April 1 match against Virginia at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.

<![CDATA[Upset by A.C. Headlee spurs win streak in UNC wrestling's 19-17 victory over Michigan]]> The No. 17 North Carolina wrestling team won its first dual meet of the season against No. 19 Michigan, 19-17, on Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich. With the meet coming down to just two points, a pin from 174-pounder Clay Lautt played a decisive role in separating the two ranked opponents.

What happened?

North Carolina fell to a quick 4-0 deficit after the first bout of the night in the 125-pound division, with No. 19 Joey Melendez, a redshirt first-year, falling to Michigan redshirt sophomore Jack Medley in a major decision, 10-2.

The Tar Heels wouldn't let that deficit last long, storming back to tie the meet with the second major decision of the night. Redshirt sophomore Jaime Hernandez dominated his match in the 133-pound division, 20-7, to draw UNC even with its opponent.

The 141- and 149-pound bouts did little to separate the score, with the two sides exchanging close victories. 141-pound redshirt sophomore Zach Sherman scored a 9-3 victory to give North Carolina the lead before Michigan came rumbling back to tie the dual with a victory in the 149-pound matchup. In another match that ended 9-3, redshirt sophomore Gino Esposito was on the losing side, drawing the match even heading into the 157-pound bout.

UNC redshirt senior A.C. Headlee pulled out an upset victory against No. 10 Will Lewan to give North Carolina a 5-2 victory. The bout was tied after both the first and second periods, with Headlee scoring a late takedown as the buzzer sounded, giving him an important 5-2 victory and the Tar Heels a 10-7 lead going into intermission.

Redshirt junior Kennedy Monday widened the gap between the two teams when he secured a 10-3 victory. No. 16 Monday led after each period and gave North Carolina an overall lead of 13-7 heading into the 174-pound bout.

Lautt scored a first-period pin against the Wolverines' Reece Hughes to earn North Carolina a pivotal 19-7 lead going into the final three matches of the night.

Lautt's pin would prove decisive for the Tar Heels, who would go on to win despite losing their final three matches. The 19-17 victory for the Tar Heels was decided in the final bout of the night, where No. 5 Mason Parris from Michigan narrowly defeated No. 20 Andrew Gunning, a redshirt junior for the Tar Heels. With Gunning staying on his feet in the 285-pound match, UNC secured its first victory of the season.

Who stood out?

Lautt's victory proved to be key in determining the final outcome for North Carolina. Had he not secured a pin, and the six points that came with it, UNC may have left Ann Arbor with an 0-1 record. The meet was projected to be tightly contested from the start, and Lautt's pin gave the Tar Heels the extra points they needed to separate them from their opponents.

When was it decided?

Outside of Lautt's pin in the 174-pound bout, an earlier victory from Headlee set off a three-match winning streak for the Tar Heels that led to a 12-point separation in UNC's favor. With a 3-2 lead late in the third period of his match, Headlee's defensive efforts and late takedown of his opponent provided a major shift in the momentum during the meet, giving North Carolina a lead they would never lose.

Why does it matter?

Coming off of the program's best NCAA finish since 1995, North Carolina will look to continue its development this year. Having success in an early road meet against an opponent of Michigan's caliber should point towards even more improvement for the Tar Heels this season.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will be on the road again for a dual meet at Stanford on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m.


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<![CDATA[Class-action lawsuit accuses NCAA of violating minimum-wage law by not paying athletes]]> A former Villanova defensive back has filed a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and many member schools that accuses them of violating minimum-wage laws by refusing to pay players.

Trey Johnson, now playing in the Canadian Football League, filed the suit Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, days after the NCAA announced it was working toward allowing athletes to profit from the use of their names, images and likenesses.

According to The New York Times, Johnson's suit "argues that athletes' hours are tracked in the same way as those of students in a work-study program, and that if student ticket-takers, seating attendants and concession workers are being paid at least a minimum wage, the players performing on the field should be, too."

"The NCAA's recent move to permit student athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness illustrates that the untenable amateurism model is simply a smoke screen used to protect the pockets of the NCAA and its member schools," Johnson's lawyer Michael Willemin told the Times. "By refusing to pay athletes the minimum wage, the NCAA is essentially saying that it is OK for athletes to be paid, as long as someone else is cutting the check."

The suit is far from the first of its kind. In 2015, for example, the National Labor Relations Board shot down a petition by Northwestern football players to organize a union.

Willemin said that Johnson's suit also seeks for athletes to be considered employees, arguing that schools are violating federal minimum wage law.

Past court cases that have helped determine "the true nature" of the employee-employer relationship, such as Vanskike v. Peters (a 1992 case concerning prisoners' status as employees) and Livers v. NCAA (brought by Poppy Livers, a Villanova teammate of Johnson's) will likely shape a court's decision.

In Livers v. NCAA, a judge asserted that colleges should not expect special rules. That case was withdrawn after the NCAA argued it had exceeded the statute of limitations; still, it could open the door for a reevaluation of the legal relationship between athlete and college.

"We have two hurdles," Willemin said. "We have to convince a court that employee tests should be conducted, and then we have to convince the court that when you look at the test, the student-athletes are employees."

Johnson's suit aims to make the link between college athletics and work-study programs, both of which have supervisors keeping track of students' hours.

The suit would cover all Division I student-athletes regardless of sport or scholarship status.

"This is not about being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we are not limiting this case only to the select few athletes that can receive endorsement deals," Johnson said in a statement. "We are simply asking the NCAA to pay its student-athletes the basic minimum wage as required by federal law. They pay the students who tear the tickets and sell popcorn at our games. The least that the NCAA can do for those who bring so much money to the NCAA and its schools would be to pay them the minimum wage."


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Former North Carolina forward Brice Johnson (11) takes a shot against Syracuse on April 2, 2016, in the Final Four in Houston, Texas.

<![CDATA[Bell, Dorrance headline ACC accolades for UNC women's soccer]]> Six members of the North Carolina women's soccer team were awarded All-ACC honors after the conclusion of the team's regular season. Head coach Anson Dorrance and first-year defender Maycee Bell headlined yet another year in which Tar Heels took home hardware at the conference level.

Dorrance was awarded ACC Coach of the Year for the 12th time in his tenure at UNC, while Bell was named Freshman of the Year. Bell is the third Tar Heel to win the award in four years, highlighting Dorrance's propensity to play and start younger players he deems ready for the challenge.

While Dorrance's achievements have been well-documented, Bell's play in her first year at UNC has been paramount for the Tar Heels' success. In the first game of her collegiate career, she joined one of the nation's best back lines and began contributing immediately. Her contribution to a defensive unit that has posted 16 shutouts in 20 games this season has been vital to her team's success.

Three UNC players were also named to first-team All-ACC, each one making a repeat appearance on the list. Forward Alessia Russo was named to the first team for the third year in a row, while both midfielder Brianna Pinto and defender Emily Fox were named to the team for a second time.

The duo of Pinto and Russo have combined for 18 goals this season, while Fox has helped anchor the Tar Heels' stout defensive unit.

Maycee Bell was also named second-team All-ACC alongside fellow defender junior Lotte Wubben-Moy, and junior midfielder Tyler Otto was named third-team All-ACC in conjunction with first-year forward Isabel Cox to round out another year of accolades for Dorrance's program.

The Tar Heels posted a 16-1-1 record in the regular season, and defeated Virginia 2-1 in double overtime on Sunday to capture the ACC Championship. They will look to avenge a loss to Florida State in last year's NCAA championship game.


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Freshman defender Maycee Bell (25), runs downfield during the game against Clemson at Dorrance Field on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. UNC won the game 1-0.

<![CDATA[Matson returns to UNC field hockey, scores twice in 3-1 win over Louisville]]> The undefeated No. 1 UNC field hockey team clinched a spot in the ACC championship game after defeating No. 6 Louisville, 3-1, on Friday afternoon in Newton, Mass. This is the fifth year in a row that UNC will compete for the conference title.

What happened?

UNC's (18-0, 6-0 ACC) offense took over early. Just under seven minutes in, Erin Matson drove the ball into the circle, bypassed several defenders on the way to the net and sent a shot into the left corner that passed by Louisville (15-5, 4-2 ACC) keeper Hollyn Barr.

Three minutes after Matson's goal, the Tar Heels tacked on another score on a penalty corner. Barr initially deflected a shot by Matson, only for senior Yentl Leemans to scoop the rebound and pass it to junior Eva Smolenaars. After a Louisville defender deflected Smolenaars' first pass, she recollected the ball and passed to senior Feline Guenther, who was in front of the cage. Guenther shot to the right and found the back of the net to put the score at 2-0.

In a game that saw many good chances on both sides, the 2-0 deficit remained until the fourth quarter. North Carolina's early two-goal lead was a precarious situation because Louisville still had plenty of time to make a comeback.

UNC's defense was tested with about eight minutes left when the Cardinals were awarded a penalty stroke after the referees incorrectly called a penalty corner. Louisville's Carter Ayars took the penalty, shooting to the right of the net. UNC keeper Amanda Hendry dove and blocked the shot, keeping the Cardinals off of the scoreboard.

With about four minutes left, Matson made it 3-0. The sophomore's mid-circle shot put the ball just inside the right post after senior Marissa Creatore broke up a Louisville pass and sent the ball to Matson for the assist.

Before UNC could secure its seventh shutout of the season, the Cardinals responded with a late goal. Louisville's Bethany Russ scored with just 59 seconds left off a penalty corner, the Cardinals' fourth penalty corner of the period.

North Carolina maintained its 3-1 lead in the closing seconds, sending the Tar Heels to the ACC Championship game.

Who stood out?

Having Matson back in the lineup, who missed three games to compete for the U.S. National Team, proved to be beneficial in Friday's game.

Matson was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row on Wednesday, and she proved why she earned the award by scoring twice against Louisville. She put on a stellar offensive performance with two goals, 10 shots and six shots on goal.

Matson secured her 23rd and 24th goals of the season on Friday. She is now tied for seventh on UNC's single-season goals list. Three more would move her into a tie for second, but the current record is 36 set by Cindy Werley in 1997.

When was it decided?

Despite a pair of early goals by the Tar Heels, the game came down to UNC playing solid defense late in the fourth quarter. Hendry made a season-high seven saves and did not allow Louisville's offense to gain any momentum outside of the late score.

Why does it matter?

With the win over Louisville, the Tar Heels will be competing in their ninth ACC Championship game in the past 10 years. But for a program that's won its last 41 games, the North Carolina field hockey team won't be satisfied with anything less than a conference title.

"It's always a thrill to play for a championship and to represent the University of North Carolina," head coach Karen Shelton said. "Our goal is to play well and our goal is to close out the game a little bit better than we did today. We didn't play the last eight minutes very well at all."

When do they play next?

UNC will compete for the ACC title on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. against Boston College in Newton, Mass.


@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

<![CDATA[Tar Heels defeat UVA, 2-1, behind Russo's late goal for 22nd ACC title]]> Another box was checked off in the North Carolina women's soccer team's redemption tour when it beat Virginia, 2-1, in double overtime Sunday in the ACC Women's Soccer Championship Final.

Junior forward Alessia Russo - who was named the tournament's MVP - drilled the game-winner in the second minute of the second overtime, giving the Tar Heels their 22nd ACC Championship.

After falling short of the conference title last season to Florida State, the No. 3 Tar Heels (19-1-1, 9-0-1 ACC) asserted themselves from the start of the match to slide past the No. 1 Cavaliers (16-1-3, 6-1-3 ACC).

What happened?

UNC was the aggressor early on, forcing a corner kick early in the fourth minute that ended with a shot by sophomore midfielder Brianna Pinto sailing high over the crossbar. Just a minute later, Russo would collect the ball at midfield, beat her defender, and send a strike directly at Cavaliers goalie Laurel Ivory, who was forced to block the ball high out of bounds.

On the ensuing corner kick, junior defender Lotte Wubben-Moy sent a perfectly placed ball to the middle of the box, where first-year defender and reigning ACC Freshman of the Year Maycee Bell headed it in for UNC's first goal.

North Carolina continued to control the ball for most of the first half, not allowing Virginia to register its first shot until the 22nd minute, when senior forward Meghan McCool's shot was saved by a diving Claudia Dickey.

At halftime, the Tar Heels had outshot the Cavaliers 7-2, and had more shots on goal at 3-1.

The game started to get chippy around the 60th minute in the second half, when Virginia's Phoebe McClernon was called for a foul and charged a yellow card. About a minute later, another foul was called that eventually led to a corner kick for UNC. However, the Tar Heels couldn't capitalize with a second goal.

In the 68th minute, the Cavaliers - who had been dominated offensively all match - struck. UVA first-year forward Diana Ordonez gathered a deflected ball from a free kick to drill the equalizer.

Two more attempts by the Tar Heels in regulation came from corner kicks but were fruitless. The contest went into overtime - and then a second overtime, where the next goal would win the match.

That's when Russo broke free and had a one-on-one matchup with UVA sophomore goalkeeper Michaela Moran. The Kent, England, native found the back of the net and her teammates swarmed her in jubilation.

Who stood out?

Russo was aggressive from the opening minute but didn't have much luck early on. Russo, who came into Sunday's championship leading the tournament in points with four, took a shot in the sixth minute, but UVA's Ivory stretched out vertically to grab the ball. She shot two more times in regulation without finding the back of the net.

But in the second overtime, it was Russo who sprinted ahead of several Cavalier defenders on her way to kicking the ACC Championship-winning goal.

First-year defender Bell opened up the scoring for UNC in the sixth minute of the match. The 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year headed a ball just past the right shoulder of UVA junior goalkeeper Laurel Ivory.

When was it decided?

Though the Tar Heels appeared to be in control for most of the contest, the match wasn't decided until the second overtime. In the 102nd minute of the game, Russo broke free and was one-on-one with the Cavaliers' Moran when she drilled the game-winner.

Why does it matter?

The victory gave North Carolina its 22nd ACC Championship and its first since 2017. The Tar Heels also toppled the No. 1 team in the country, right before heading into the NCAA Tournament.

When do they play next?

The selection show for the NCAA Tournament is Monday at 4:30 p.m. The Tar Heels will find out then who their opponent will be and where they'll be playing during the first round on November 16.

@pupadhyaya_ | @bg_keyes

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com