Pilots hope to send UNC running
No. 4 UP women’s soccer team takes on top-ranked Tar Heels
When top-ranked North Carolina walks onto the Merlo Field turf for a 1 p.m. Saturday game with the University of Portland women's soccer team, there won't be anything secretive about how the Tar Heels play, at least for Pilots coach Clive Charles.
'They're physical, they're talented, and they come at you for 90 minutes,' says Charles, whose Pilots are ranked No. 4 in the nation. 'And what they do doesn't really change from year to year.'
The one thing that Charles hopes will change when the Pilots meet the Tar Heels for the third time in Portland is the outcome. North Carolina, off to a 7-0-1 start this season, has won all seven meetings between the schools, including two games at Merlo Field.
Last season, the Heels beat Portland 2-1 in the NCAA semifinals, ending the Pilots' season.
Portland, 7-2-0, has won seven straight games. And Charles thinks the Pilots' roster has improved from last fall.
'We're older and more mature,' he says. 'Hopefully we'll win this time.'
A crowd of more than 3,000 is expected.
Saturday's game will highlight two of the top young players in North America, Portland's Christine Sinclair and UNC's Lindsay Tarpley.
Sinclair led the Canadian under-19 team to the world championships final earlier this month, where it lost 1-0 to the United States. Tarpley scored 19 minutes into overtime.
Sinclair, a sophomore, leads the Pilots with eight goals and one assist in seven games, having missed the first two while playing for Canada. Tarpley, a freshman, leads the Tar Heels with eight goals and four assists.
'I've met her a couple times,' Sinclair says. 'But only briefly, when we've been accepting trophies.'
North Carolina knows all about Sinclair, who has 31 career goals Ñ good for seventh on the all-time list at UP. The Heels held her scoreless in the semifinal last year. Charles expects her to rise above the defensive pressure this season.
'We definitely didn't play as well as we could have when we met them last season,' Sinclair says. 'I think this year will be different because there won't be as much pressure. And we have more confidence.'
Sinclair's offensive pressure has helped the Pilots' defense, which has only allowed one goal since she returned.
Senior midfielder Erin Misaki is Portland's second-leading scorer with two goals and three assists for seven points. Midfielder Wanda Rozwadowska, a junior who also is from Canada, has two goals, two assists and six points.
Cristin Shea and Lauren Arase have been sharing duties in goal, with Shea allowing 0.79 goals per game in five appearances and Arase giving up 0.50 in four games.