There’s a lot of Carolina Blue in the Red, White and Blue


Five of the 18 woman on this year’s Olympic roster are from the University of North Carolina:

  • Crystal Dunn
  • Whitney Engen
  • Tobin Heath
  • Meghan Klingenberg
  • Allie Long.

That may seem like a lot of Tar Heels — but it really isn’t, Jake Lawrence writes for SB Nation.

This year’s Carolina products “are simply part of a long, proud, borderline ridiculous tradition that has intertwined UNC” and the women’s national team for 25 years.

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Since the first Women’s World Cup in 1991, every U.S. team has included at least two North Carolina players. In all, 43 of a possible 143 roster spots — about 30 percent — have gone to Tar Heels, an average of six U.S. players per World Cup.

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Since women’s soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996, 30 Tar Heels have been named to U.S. Olympic teams, not counting alternates. (Half of this year’s four alternates — Ashlyn Harris and Heather O’Reilly — went to North Carolina.) That’s an average of five players per Olympiad, exactly this year’s total.

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Considering World Cups and Olympic tournaments together, more than 70 roster spots — again, about 30 percent — have been filled by players from Anson Dorrance’s storied UNC program.

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Anson Dorrance and Mia Hamm after the University of North Carolina  won the 1992 national collegiate championship.

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At least one Tar Heel has scored in every one of those competitions, except the 2012 Olympics. (This year, Dunn got one of Team USA’s two goals against Colombia.)


Crystal Dunn and Isabella Echeverri of Colombia, Aug. 9, 2016. (Michael Dantas/AP)

And the Chapel Hill pipeline never runs dry. While it’s true that some UNC legends — Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Cindy Parlow, Heather O’Reilly, Tobin Heath — made one U.S. roster after another, there’s also been a steady stream of newcomers.

Every World Cup roster has included at least one Tar Heel who hadn’t previously played in a World Cup or Olympics. The same is true for three of the six Olympic rosters.

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Overall, 54 UNC alumnae have made an appearance for the U.S.national team.

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Lori Henry, Carla Overbeck, April Heinrichs, and Kristine Lilly served as team captain for a combined 605 matches.

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A Tar Heel has been U.S. Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year 10 times, led the USWNT in scoring six times, and led in assists eight times.

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Mia Hamm is first all-time among U.S. players in assists, second in goals, and third in caps.

Kristine Lilly is second in assists, third in goals, first in caps.


Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm in St. Louis, 1998. (Johnmaxmena/English Wikipedia)



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