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

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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.)

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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.

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

 

 

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