Athletics Award

Lacrosse, soccer lift UNC women to Capital One Cup award

CorrespondentJune 13, 2013 

— Women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse were the headliners.

But by no means were those two programs the only reason North Carolina’s women’s athletics program won the Capital One Cup on Thursday.

“It is a nice distinction for the entire athletic department,” said UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham. “We had a lot of success with our women’s programs, and to have the year that they had this year collectively and to win that award is great – I think it’s great recognition for them.”

The Capital One Cup is awarded to the top overall athletics programs each year. Buoyed by NCAA championships in women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse, UNC received 140 points to finish ahead of Stanford (129.5 points) and Oregon (112).

UNC will be recognized for winning the Capital One Cup at the ESPY awards in July.

For Cunningham, the highlights from the year went beyond the NCAA titles.

UNC’s field hockey team lost only two games all year, reaching the championship game of the NCAA tournament before falling to Princeton. Women’s tennis was ranked as one of the nation’s top teams in the spring before losing in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. The volleyball and softball programs also spent much of the year ranked in the top 25.

“So we had many of our teams knocking on the door of national championship caliber performances,” he said.

But if Cunningham were to pick only two moments, he’d go with the obvious.

“To me, I think the great stories were soccer and lacrosse,” he said before extolling the virtues of women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy and women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance.

“You have Jenny who has been our only head coach and who has been knocking on the door of a national championship and Final Fours for the last six or eight years. And she finally broke through and won her first national championship. She has been terrific – it’s her first, it’s Anson’s 21st.”

Cunningham said Dorrance’s insight at the athletics department’s first coaches meeting of the year proved prescient.

“Anson came into the meeting and said, ‘We have three students on national team and two that are injured, so we won’t be very good at the beginning of the year; if, and he emphasized if, we make the NCAA championship, we’ll have a chance to win it,’ ” Cunningham said, recalling Dorrance’s words.

“And he did.”

In the process, Dorrance has showed to his peers a possible map to championships.

In that sense, Cunningham believes the success of the Tar Heels women’s programs perpetuates itself.

“I think when you go to the coaches’ meetings and you sit around with 21 of some of the best coaches in the country and they talk about the various successes they’re having – you feel compelled to work even harder,” he said.

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