|School – North Carolina
|Conference – Atlantic Coast Conference
|Coach – Carlos Somoano (4th Season)
|Background – North Carolina advanced to the College Cup in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. They won the program's second National Championship in 2011 with a 21-2-3 overall record in Carlos Somoano's first season as the Tar Heel head coach. In 2012 North Carolina was 16-4-3 overall and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. In 2013 the Tar Heels were 9-6-5 overall with a 4-2-5 mark in conference play. They secured their 21st invite overall invite to the NCAA tournament including their 14th in the past 15 season. The Tar Heels topped South Florida 1-0 to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament where their 2013 season came to an end when they were defeated 1-0 by U.C. Irvine. The North Carolina defense posted ten shutouts in 2013 and ranked six nationally with a 0.61 goals against average. Boyd Okwuonu was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was a College Soccer News All-America team selection. Goalkeeper Brendon Moore and centerback Jonathan Campbell were All-ACC Second Team selections while defender Jordan McCrary was an All-ACC Third Team member. Midfielder Omar Holness was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team.
|Offense – Injuries that kept forwards Rob Lovejoy and Andy Craven from playing last year slowed the Tar Heel attack. It was a storyline that helped turn what at one time looked like one of the top offenses in the ACC into one that only netted a total of nineteen goals. As a sophomore starter in 2011 Lovejoy netted seven goals and contributed five assists. In 2012 he missed the first twelve games of the season due to injury but returned to start ten contests during which time he scored five goals and added two assists. Craven led the Tar Heels in scoring in 2012 with six goals and five assists. Both return as fifth year seniors in 2014. Seniors Tyler Engel and Cooper Vandermaas-Peeler also return to add additional power to the attack. All four have the quickness and touch on the ball to spread out defenses. Engel led North Carolina in scoring last year with six goals and two assists while Vandermaas-Peeler netted three goals and contributed four assists. Freshman forward Alan Winn who is ranked by College Soccer News as the fifth best player in the class of 2014 and junior transfer forward Tucker Hume from Rollins College will also add an additional dimension to the Tar Hell attack. The midfield looks to be talented and deep with highly regarded sophomore Omar Holness (2g, 3a) and juniors Raby George (3g, 1a) and Alex Olofson (0g, 2a) among key returnees. Seniors Verneri Valimaa (1g, !a), and Glen Long (1g, 0a) and sophomore Warren Marshall also look to be in the mix in the midfield. The biggest question on the offensive side of the ball heading into the 2014 season may be how and where Somoano utilizes his players.
|Defense – The entire backline returns from a unit that did a great job last year of putting the Tar Heels in position to win games. Seniors Boyd Okwuonu and Jordan McCrary (0g, 2a) and junior Jonathan Campbell headline a backline that may very well be the best in the counry in 2014. Senior C.J. Odenique and sophomores Nick Williams (0g, 1a) and Colton Storm (0g, 1a) are among several other extremely capable defenders. Freshman Evan Krause who played club soccer for CASL and junior transfer Walker Hume who was the Sunshine State Conference Defender of the Year in 2013 are among the newcomers who will likely challenge for playing time. Senior goalkeeper Brendan Moore who now has a year of starting experience under his belt after taking over the reigns from Scott Goodwin last year returns in goal. The Tar Heels only allowed a total of thirteen goals last year. With so much talent, depth, and experience returning, it is reasonable to conclude that North Carolina will again be rock solid on the defensive side of the ball in 2014.
Newcomers – Four and a Half Star Recruiting Class
Coach Somoano stated, "We are ecstatic about the recruiting class our coaching staff has put together this year. They're a group of young men who have the ambition and character to represent our university and our Tar Heel soccer family."
Jesus Bolivar – Midfielder – Miami , Florida – Gulliver Prep School – Netted 27 goals and contributed 44 assists during his tenure at Gullivery Prep. Played club soccer for Soccer Academy of Americas. All-State selection as a junior.
Luke Ciocca – Defender – Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Chapel Hill High School – Played for Triangle United. Netted 16 goals and added 16 assists in three seasons at Chapel Hill High School. All-Region selection.
Tucker Hume – Forward – San Angelo, Texas – Westlake High School – Junior transfer from Rollins College where he scored 14 goals and contributed eight assists during two seasons. First Team All-Sunshine State Conference. Played for Austin Aztex in the USL PDL.
Walker Hume – Defender – San Angelo, Texas – Westlake High School – Junior transfer from Rollins College where he started 39 contests in two seasons. First Team All-America selection by Daktronics and the NSCAA in 2013. 2013 Sunshine State Defender of the Year. Played for Austin Aztex in the USL PDL.
Evan Krause – Defender – Cary, North Carolina – Green Hope High School – Played with CASL. Ranked by College Soccer News as the 76th best player in the class of 2014. Led Green Hope to state championship.
Andy Lopez – Midfielder – Mission, Texas – St. Stephens Academy – Played club soccer for Lonestar FC and Sporting KC.
James Pyle – Goalkeeper – Charlotte, North Carolina – Ardrey Kell High School – Played for Charlotte Soccer Academy. Allowed fewest goals in the U-18 Southeast Division each of the last two seasons.
Alan Winn – Forward – Garland, Texas – Naaman Forest High School – Ranked as the number 5 player in the class of 2014 by College Soccer News. U.S. U-18 National Team member. NSCAA Youth All-America Team selection in 2013.
Zach Wright – Forward – Smithville, Texas – Blue Valley Northwest High School – Played for U-18 Sporting KC.
|Prognosis for 2014 – There are plenty of reasons for optimism at North Carolina heading into the 2014 campaign and very few reasons for concern. The Tar Heels lose only three seniors, Josh Rice (2g, 2a), Chipper Root, and Alex Waters (0g, 1a), from the 2013 squad. Eleven starters return, the forward tandem of Andy Craven and Rob Lovejoy are back after missing the entire 2013 season due to injury, the midfield looks to be solid, the veteran backline anchored by senior Boyd Okwuonu is aguably the best in the country, and senior Brendon Moore provides a solid and confident presence between the pipes. Add to that another very capable recruiting class that features forward Alan Winn from Garland, Texas and you have the ingredients for a College Cup caliber team if everything falls into place. Credit Carlos Somoano and his staff for doing an excellent job of keeping the Tar Heels on track last year despite the adversity they faced. Doing that often pays dividends in subsequent seasons. Reasons for concern include an always challenging and difficult schedule and the very recent memory of how key injuries can signficantly change the landscape for any team. North Carolina opens the season with tough matches at home against California and UCLA. They then have to take the road to face competitive sides from Old Dominion and VCU followed by a contest on the road with always troublesome giant killer William and Mary. A successful start in those matches would be huge for the Tar Heels.