CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina will host an unusual soccer doubleheader Sunday – one game in each of the NCAA men’s and women’s soccer tournaments.
The North Carolina women (12-5-2), who are seeded second, get the proceedings at Fetzer Field started when they meet third-seeded Baylor (19-1-4) at 1 p.m. in a third-round game. It will be the 31st consecutive year that the Tar Heels advanced at least as far as the third round, or as long as the tournament has been in existence. But for a program that owns 20 NCAA championships, North Carolina is looking for its first title since 2009, or when the current seniors were freshmen.
The UNC men follow at 5 p.m. in a second-round game when they take on America East champion UMBC.
Sunday’s tournament games are separate admissions.
UNC (12-5-2) vs. Baylor (19-1-4): These teams also meet last year in the NCAA tournament, when the Tar Heels posted a 5-0 win over the Bears in the second round at Gainesville, Fla. The winner will meet either No. 1-seed Brigham Young or No. 4-seed Marquette, who played late Saturday night.
Baylor, the Big 12 champion, advanced Friday with a 2-1 overtime win over Georgetown. After falling behind in the 83rd minute, Bri Campos headed in the tying goal for the Bears with 1:57 left in regulation. Dana Larsen ended matters 2:41 into overtime when she scored off a cross from Larissa Campos.
UNC meanwhile took the fight out of the Illini, erupting for seven second-half goals to overwhelm Illinois 9-2. The nine goals were one shy of the NCAA tournament record and validated coach Anson Dorrance’s claims of a solid week of practice and his team’s improved depth.
Three goals and five assists were credited to non-starters, led by senior forward Alyssa Rich with two goals and an assist. Dorrance also tinkered with his starting lineup, inserting junior Kelly McFarlane at outside midfielder and moving junior Crystal Dunn from central defender to forward.
McFarlane tallied UNC’s first goal. Dunn scored the second, set up the third, which was an own goal, and nearly had another when she banged a shot off the crossbar.
“What you want to do if you can get up a couple goals is to share the playing time, which we were able to do today,” Dorrance said Friday of the prospect of playing twice in three days.
“We also knew how well the reserves were playing. We had a starters vs. reserves scrimmage … and the reserves absolutely dominated the starters. That’s what you saw out there today. The reserves subbed in when the score was 4-1 and played the balance of the (second) half.”
UNC (15-3-2) vs. UMBC (11-4-6): The ninth-seeded Tar Heels, who had a first-round bye, begin their defense of the NCAA title they won a year ago and make a bid for their fifth straight College Cup appearance.
The Retrievers pulled off a first-round upset by eliminating Old Dominion on penalty kicks 4-2 Thursday after the teams played to a scoreless tie in regulation and two overtimes. Junior goalkeeper Phil Saunders stopped two penalty kicks in the shootout and recorded his fourth straight shutout.
The winner would meet either eighth-seeded Saint Louis or Fairleigh Dickinson in the round of 16.
UNC hasn’t played since falling to Maryland 2-1 in the championship game of the ACC tournament a week ago, which was the Tar Heels’ third game in six days.
“We were struggling physically, so the great thing about the NCAA tournament is we won’t have to play more than one game a week until the College Cup,” UNC coach Carlos Somoano said. “That will serve us well. We’re a much better team playing one game a week.”
Somoano said he hoped his young team learned from the loss to the Terrapins.
“We’re going to have to be able to adapt to different environments,” he said. “We tried to stress that all year … but we don’t adjust on the fly as quickly. We need to find different ways to be successful.”
The Tar Heels rally around senior goalkeeper Scott Goodwin, who has 14 shutouts this season and leads the nation in goals-against average at 0.290 per game.
Elsewhere: Three other ACC women’s teams and three men’s teams are also in action today. The marquee game has the third-seeded Duke women (14-5-2) playing a 4 p.m. game at Virginia (18-4-1) in the round of 16. No. 1 Florida State (18-3) hosts Texas A&M (19-4-1) in another women’s game.
In the men’s bracket, second-seeded Maryland (17-1-2) hosts Brown 13-2-3), 15th seed Wake Forest (11-3-5) entertains Coastal Carolina (19-2-2), and Virginia (10-6-4) travels to 13th seed New Mexico (16-3-1).