Finally, I Saw The UNC Women's Soccer Team Live
For years I have seen the UNC Women's Soccer Team play, but it has always been on TV. Therefore, I was pleased when a friend of mine called and asked if I would be interested in traveling to Charlottesville to see the UNC Women play the 5th ranked Virginia Women Cavaliers. I agreed to attend the match, I did, and boy am I glad that I got to see a battle of two nationally ranked top 5 soccer teams go at it. For those of you who don't follow women's soccer, maybe I should point out that the UNC Women are undefeated and ranked no. 1 in the country. This is a familiar place for them since they have won numerous national championships and, according to the flyer distributed at the game, if UNC won the match with UVA, it would be their 14th regular season ACC championship. I had thought it was more than that, but no one disputes the fact that UNC's women have dominated a sport like no other collegiate sports program including UCLA's run of basketball championships.
The match was played at Klocker Field which is a first class facility on the campus of UVA with a seating capacity of maybe 3000-3500. They announced that the attendance for the game I witnessed came within 10 of surpassing the stadium
record attendance for a single game. There were approximately 2000 fans present which included a sizeable group of UNC supporters.
Even though I have watched many soccer matches, I still don't know the rules very well and I was fortunate that my friend who follows the Tar Heels closer than I do was willing to clarify several points as the match progressed. UNC scored early but Virginia responded quickly with a goal and the score was tied at halftime 1-1. The Virginia goal was scored when UNC made a defensive error and even though I understood very little about the mechanics and strategies of the game, I could see the goal coming. To the untrained eye, it appeared the UNC goal keeper had made the mistake, but my friend pointed out that it was not her mistake. Her teammates had allowed a situation to develop that put the goalkeeper in an impossible situation and Virginia cashed in. Remember Virginia is the 5th ranked team in the country and had lost only two matches this year by one goal each prior to the UNC encounter. Virginia lost to Ohio State and Duke by 1 goal each on the road and had double overtime ties with Dayton and Wake Forest.
UNC substituted far more than Virginia and in the second half they pulled away for a 3-1 victory. In soccer, that is a decisive win. The win brings the all time record of UNC women against the UVA women to 33-0.
The crowd was understandably supportive of UVA and had distributed orange "thunder sticks" to their fans. It's amazing how much noise can be made with those things. They helped make up for the lack of a football game sized crowd with the noise generated by banging them together.
There were no incidents with the UVA fans, but after the game a nice older lady decked out in Virginia colors said to us, "You sure have some fast girls on that team." In an attempt to be a gracious winner I said, "Now if we could just get some of them to wear football jerseys, we would be all right." My intent was to allow her an opportunity to mention that UVA has done rather well again us in football in the past few years. She must not have understood what I was trying to do because she gave me a puzzled look and I decided to drop it. Maybe I'm not the great communicator I try to be because this is not the first time I have seen the look she gave me. Maybe she thought I was suggesting that the girls looked masculine and resented me suggesting that they play football. Not a chance. The UNC are an attractive group and are a real credit to the university.
I still haven't seen a women's match in Chapel Hill so maybe that will be my next objective. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the women's soccer team since I heard they play a cassette of James Taylor's "In My Mind, I'm Going To Carolina" when they warm up for matches. I didn't hear it at this match, but we got there a little late so we might have missed it.
Incidentally, for those of you who may wonder how UNC compares with UVA regarding the use of home grown talent, Virginia had three players on their team from Virginia while UNC had 13 who are from N.C. Speaks well for women's soccer in North Carolina.