In the 32-year history of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament, North Carolina has never failed to reach the round of 16. The Tar Heels will be out to continue that streak Friday when they take on Colorado.
No. 2-seeded UNC (13-3-2) and the Buffaloes (14-6-1) will meet at 7 p.m. at Fetzer Field, following a 4 p.m. match between No. 3 seed South Carolina (13-5-4) and Seattle (15-4-2). The winners play at 1 p.m. Sunday at Fetzer in the third round.
UNC has won all three meetings with the Buffaloes, the last in 2005. Colorado received an at-large bid after finishing third in the Pac-12 behind UCLA and Stanford, which are No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. UNC also got an at-large bid after tying Florida State for the ACC regular-season championship.
“No question they’ve overachieved,” UNC coach Anson Dorrance said of his Tar Heels, who start only one senior and are without 10 starters from a year ago. “We’re certainly having a good season. Now we have a chance to make this a great season.”
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Colorado earned coach Danny Sanchez his 200th career victory with a 2-0 win against BYU in the opening round.
“Actually they’re a lot like us,” Dorrance said. “They spread their scoring out. If you look at the total goals they’ve scored this season and our total, and the total goals given up, the numbers are pretty close.”
While UNC has won 21 NCAA titles and reached the College Cup five more times, Colorado is 7-7-1 all-time in the NCAA tournament, 3-1 under Sanchez.
Sanchez has told his players they deserve to be here, though.
“We know the quality of (UNC) and the quality of their conference, but we play in a conference that has nine teams in the NCAA tournament,” he said.
“So I think we played some good teams as well. We’re going to have to play really well, (and) we’re going to have to be really focused. But we have a confident group that has a little bit of swagger to them. I think that we’ll give it our best effort, and if we play well, I think we have a chance, for sure.”
South Carolina and Seattle will be meeting for the first time.
Seattle, the Western Athletic Conference champion, has totaled 68 goals, including a school-record 22 by WAC offensive player of the year Stephanie Verdoia, who is also the school’s career leader in goals. The Redhawks rank third nationally with 3.24 goals per game.
South Carolina is making its fifth second-round appearance in the past six years, having advanced past Clemson on penalty kicks after tying 0-0. Senior goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo recorded her 10th shutout of the season and 29th of her career. Seattle got its first NCAA tournament victory last week against Washington State, 2-1, in double overtime.