The 2020-21 Academic and Sporting calendar was heavily affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. As a result, Division I athletics was cancelled during the traditional fall season and moved to Spring. These included; men’s and women’s cross country, women’s field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s water polo.
For the University of North Carolina, while the delay was disappointing, all it did was overload the spring with multiple national championship caliber teams.
Of the fall sports, the Tar Heels knew they had national championship potential in field hockey and both soccer teams. For the traditional spring sports, the top-level teams for UNC include men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s lacrosse.
All seven of these teams have had incredible seasons to bring renown to the university and all seven have legitimate national title aspirations. Let’s look at each team to find out how they fared or where they are at in their championship quest.
Last Sunday night, the women’s field hockey team wrapped up their third straight national championship, and ninth overall, with a 4-3 overtime win over Michigan.
The Tar Heels have been the number one overall seed in each of the past three NCAA Tournaments and have lived up to expectations each time. One result that was different this season than the previous two is that UNC actually lost a game (3-1 at Louisville in the second game of the season). Carolina rode a 47-game winning streak before taking that loss and is 65-1 overall in this three-year winning championship stretch.
The women’s soccer team entered the NCAA Tournament ranked no. 2 in the nation. Through their first three games, they shut out each of their opponents (Denver, Washington, Texas A&M), to advance to the Final Four. Unfortunately, the Tar Heels weren’t able to advance to the National Championship, falling 3-1 to Santa Clara. Santa Clara went on and became champions!
For those who love stats: This was just the 28th time in the history of the program the Tar Heels trailed by more than one goal. To put that stat more in perspective, that’s 28 times in 1008 matches.
The men’s team suffered the same fate as the women’s team, losing in the national semifinals. Marshall, who defeated the Tar Heels.
The fact that UNC made the Final Four (called the College Cup in soccer) was in itself a triumph. The unseeded Heels were able to knock off no. 5 seed Wake Forest in the quarterfinals.
Similar to field hockey, the women’s tennis team also entered the NCAA Tournament as the nation’s top seed (however this was the first time they’ve earned that distinction). Through the first two rounds, the Tar Heels have defeated South Carolina State and Old Dominion, both by a clean sweep (4-0).
The Tar Heels defeated No.16 seed California and advanced to the Elite 8.
The men’s tennis team hasn’t quite matched the level of their female counterparts, but the no. 6 overall national seed is certainly nothing to sneeze at. They have, however, matched the women by notching back-to-back 4-0 victories in each of the first two matches of the NCAA Tournament.
Another top seed is the Women’s lacrosse team.
The ladies have won all 18 games they’ve played this year and are on a 25-game winning streak dating back to the COVID-shortened 2020 season. If you take a look at this year’s schedule, you’ll notice that the Tar Heels have not just won all 18 games, but by and large have obliterated their opponents.
In capturing this year’s ACC Tournament crown, UNC has won five straight conference tournament championships.
Not only are the ladies seeded number one, but so is the men’s lacrosse team. Unlike the women, the men have actually dropped a couple nail-biters.
Duke is the no. 2 seed on the other side of the bracket. What an event that would be for the Tar Heels and Blue Devils to meet in the national championship. The teams played twice this season, with each one winning at home.
To summarize this magnificent spring season
That’s three Final Fours in the first three of these seven teams to complete their season, one of which culminated in a national championship.
Four of the seven teams were the top overall seed in their respective NCAA Tournament, with women’s soccer (no. 2) and men’s tennis (no. 6) also right there at the top.
How will the remaining four teams wind up? Can the University of North Carolina walk away from the spring sports slate with seven Final Fours? It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
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