One of the standouts at UNC-Chapel Hill could figure prominently in the United States’ quest for a “triple” in women’s soccer.
Although she is the youngest player on the UNC team, freshman forward Summer Green is the most experienced member of the U.S. Under 17 women’s national team, which will play in the U17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan (Sept. 22-Oct. 13).
U.S. women won the Olympic gold medal at London in August and the U20 World Cup in Tokyo this month.
“I would love to keep the streak going,” said Green, Top Drawer Soccer.com’s national player of the week as well as the ACC player of the week after scoring four goals last weekend. She is a top scoring threat for the U.S. as well. In 21 international appearances for the U.S. U17 team, she has 17 goals.
The U.S. team, which is in Group B with France, North Korea and Gambia, has never won the U17 title but looms as one of the favorites in the 16-team field. Does that pressure worry Green?
“There’s always pressure,” said Green, who departed Tuesday to join the U.S. team for pre-tournament training in Cyprus. “But if we do everything we can and we leave everything on the field, I think we’ll be OK.”
Green will have some teammates from Wake County, as three members of the Capital Area Soccer League’s Chelsea Ladies are on the 21-player U.S. roster. They are midfielder Joanna Boyles of Raleigh’s Sanderson High, defender Morgan Reid of Cardinal Gibbons, and defender Claire Wagner of Cary’s Panther Creek.
Welcome back: This is the week UNC women’s coach Anson Dorrance and Duke women’s coach Robbie Church had circled on their calendars. Their players who were part of the U.S. U20 World Cup champions returned to campus Monday after a red-eye flight from Japan, just in time for the ACC schedule to begin.
Neither coach could say if his players were ready to jump into college soccer after a month of international play, not to mention jet lag.
“Let’s see how long it takes our world champions to adjust to the collegiate level,” said Dorrance, who hopes that forwards Kealia Ohai and Crystal Dunn can offset the absence of Summer Green.
The bigger question for Dorrance is the goalkeeper situation. Freshman Bryane Heaberlin, who attended UNC last spring, proved she was world-class as she backstopped the U.S. effort in Japan. However, redshirt senior Adelaide Gay has allowed only one goal in six matches (seven counting an exhibition), and UNC has gone the last 647 minutes without allowing a goal.
“That’s a tough one,” Dorrance admitted. “I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Church expressed similar sentiments over the return of Kelly Cobb and Mollie Pathman. “We don’t know where they are mentally and physically,” he said. “We’re not sure when they’ll be ready to go.”
Shouldering the load: Last season the UNC men scored 58 goals, second most in the NCAA, en route to a national championship. But 51 of those goals – 88 percent – departed via graduation.
However, Cary Green Hope grad Martin Murphy, who netted only one goal a year ago, has four this season already, including three game-winners, after a preseason move from midfield to forward for the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels (4-0, 1-0 ACC).
“I think moving forward definitely helps,” said the junior, who garnered his second consecutive ACC player of the week honor. “It gives you more chances in front of goal.”
UNC second-year coach Carlos Somoano said the move was a no-brainer. “He’s one of our best finishers now,” said Somoano, who coached the native of Glasgow, Scotland, on CASL’s Elite U17 club team.
Looking ahead: The ACC women’s schedule opens with a big one Thursday when No. 2 Duke (6-1, 0-0) visits No. 1 Florida State before taking on Miami (4-2-1, 0-0). The rest of the Thursday/Sunday matches have No. 12 UNC (4-1-1, 0-0) going to Maryland (4-2-1, 0-0) and No. 8 Virginia (7-1, 0-0). N.C. State travels to Virginia and No. 9 Virginia Tech (8-0, 0-0).
The No. 18 N.C. State men (6-0), enjoying their best start since 1982, host No. 3 Maryland (3-0-1, 1-0) on Friday. Duke (1-3, 0-1) plays Clemson (1-2-2, 0-0-1) on Friday. UNC hosts No. 15 Wake Forest (3-0-1, 0-0-1) on Friday.