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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's soccer

Women’s soccer faces North Carolina in second round of NCAA Tournament tonight

The Hoosiers will play top-seeded and defending national champion North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

IU women’s soccer was just beginning preparation for Friday’s 6 p.m., second round NCAA Tournament game when IU Coach Amy Berbary asked the question.

“Why not?” Berbary asked her players. “Why not beat the reigning national champions?”

No. 5 North Carolina (18-4) is the biggest test IU (15-6-1) has faced all season. The Tar Heels have outscored opponents 44-12 and have only given up five goals at home all year.

Entering the game, IU once again finds itself the underdog. It’s a position the team, predicted to finish last in the Big Ten, has been in before.

“I think that’s going to be something that drives us,” Berbary said. “Now we have no pressure, which I think is good for our team. We’re not supposed to win the game.”

North Carolina enters the game after having little trouble advancing to the second round, which features 32 teams. They beat Big South Conference champion Liberty 4-0 in the opening round.

The win came without leading scorer and member of the 2012 FIFA World Cup winning U.S. Women’s U-20 team, Crystal Dunn. The senior forward was sidelined with a leg injury the previous two games and could be out again Friday.

“I think we’re going to approach it the same way, whether they have her in or not,” junior forward Monica Melink said. “We can’t let one player hold us back from playing our best.”

IU has not played North Carolina in the regular season since losing to them 5-0 in the Collegiate Cup in 1995.

To combat that, the coaching staff has segmented aspects of the Tar Heels game and compared them with teams IU has played.

“Our coaches are doing a really good job of scouting,” junior midfielder Rebecca Dreher said. “We’re combining other teams’ strengths and trying to picture how North Carolina is going to play.”

Dreher explained that North Carolina pressures like Penn State, is as organized as Michigan and is very fast. She added that there has been extra emphasis on scouting.
“That’s going to be as crucial as our practice this week,” she said.

IU is coming off one of its best performances of the season in the opening round where it beat DePaul 1-0.

“That was a great game for us to have before this game against UNC,” Melink said. “We started out really strongly, and we really think if we have that same mentality and bring it to UNC that there’s nothing that can stop us.”

If IU defeats North Carolina on Friday, they will advance to the Sweet 16 on Sunday in Chapel Hill. The Hoosiers would play the winner of Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

Despite being an unranked team going against the defending national champion, Berbary said the game could go either way.

“Soccer is a funny game. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day,” Berbary said. “In my heart of hearts, I believe this team thinks they can win.”

Melink said the Hoosiers are confident and excited to play against the top-seeded Tar Heels.

“We definitely have the mentality to face any team in the nation,” Melink said. “This is the perfect opportunity for us to shock the nation once again.”

Follow women's soccer reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.

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