In-state teams advance in NCAA soccer tournaments

With the men’s and women’s tournaments being played in N.C., four local teams advanced to the Sweet 16

Abby Allen, who scored in UNC's 2-0 win last Friday over Denver, and the Tar Heels advanced into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women's soccer tournament bracket and are looking to bring a 22nd national title back to Chapel Hill. (Jeffrey Camarati / UNC athletics)

The home-state advantage was kind to North Carolina teams playing in the NCAA’s postseason soccer tournaments last week.

With all games being played at venues around the Old North State, teams from UNC, Duke and Wake Forest all advanced to the Sweet 16 round of their respective brackets, with the Tar Heels still alive and kicking on both the men’s and women’s sides.

UNC’s second-seeded women will play Washington on Wednesday at 3 p.m. while ninth-seeded Duke takes on Ole Miss at noon. The Tar Heels men, who advanced by beating in-state rival Charlotte, will face Washington on Thursday at 3 p.m., followed at 9 p.m. with the fifth-seeded Deacons matched against Kentucky.

All games will be played at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.

Not everyone was able to take advantage of the friendly surroundings. Despite playing on their home fields, Campbell’s women and UNC Greensboro’s men were beaten in the opening round of the tournament, with the Camels falling 1-0 to Iowa and the Spartans losing a 3-2 decision to Omaha on a goal in the 87th minute.

High Point’s men (2-0 to Georgetown) and Elon’s women (1-0 to Milwaukee) were also beaten in opening-round games.

Of the teams that survived, UNC’s women (16-1-0) had by far the easiest time advancing. Seeking their record 22nd national championship, coach Anson Dorrance’s Tar Heels beat Denver 2-0 at the Matthews SportsPlex on Friday.

Rachel Dorwart had a goal and an assist, and Abby Allen also scored to provide the offense. Keeper Claudia Dickey needed to make only two saves on the way to her 13th shutout of the season.

Washington (10-3-4) earned its date with UNC by beating Liberty 3-0 and surviving a penalty kick shootout for a win against St. Louis.

Duke’s road to the Sweet 16 took a detour into a pair of overtimes before the Blue Devils (11-5-3) came away with a 2-1 win against Arizona State in Greenville.

Sophie Jones scored off an assist from Maggie Graham 2:34 into the second extra period to secure the victory after the Sun Devils tied the game with a goal late in regulation time.

Tess Boade opened the scoring in the first half with an unassisted goal. Goalie Ruthie Jones made three saves to preserve the victory.

The Blue Devils’ next opponent, Ole Miss, beat Southern Cal 3-2 in a shootout.

Two overtimes weren’t enough to decide the opening-round men’s game between UNC and Charlotte in Cary.

The schools played to a 1-1 draw through regulation after the teams traded a pair of late goals. Akeim Clarke put the Tar Heels (8-4-1) ahead in the 74th minute before Joe Brito answered right back for the 49ers (6-4-1) by netting a bending free kick with less than five minutes remaining.

Charlotte nearly won the game in the first overtime when Preston Popp hit the crossbar from 15 yards out.

The 49ers’ luck didn’t get any better in the shootout, thanks to UNC goalie Alec Smir. After the teams traded goals in the first round, Smir made spectacular saves on Axel Sigurdason and Matteo Busio. The Tar Heels took advantage by getting goals from Milo Garvanian and Ernest Bawa to close the game out.

UNC’s next opponent, fourth-seeded Stanford, beat Omaha 1-0 in overtime in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score. The Cardinal (10-2-1) outshot the upstart Summit League champions by a 25-2 margin.

Wake Forest, meanwhile, got a pair of goals from Omar Hernandez and a little help from its opponent in the form of a first-half own goal to hold off Coastal Carolina.

The Deacons (12-2-2) appeared to be in charge after Hernandez scored his second of the game on a long-range strike from Kyle Holcomb. But they had to sweat out the final eight minutes after the Chanticleers’ Claudio Repetto scored on a breakaway to narrow the margin to one.

Wake now takes on Kentucky (12-4-2), a 2-0 winner in its opening game against New Hampshire.

In accordance with NCAA rules, attendance for all games is limited to 50% capacity. All games are available through live streaming.