UNC women’s soccer: All-time lineup, greatest players all-time

UNC women’s soccer: All-time lineup, greatest players all-time

With 21 NCAA national championships, 23 ACC titles, 25 Olympic gold medals and 74 first-team All Americans all belonging to the North Carolina women’s soccer team, it is safe to say that this dynasty has etched itself in history as one of the most decorated, successful and dominant of all time, regardless of sport or gender.

With any championship caliber team, there are great individual players involved in the making of success. In this case, many of those players went on to become international sensations and icons in the soccer world.

We decided to name our North Carolina women’s soccer best lineup by position, not including current players. It is important to note that there are some accomplished players that we did not include that are still early in their careers.

Goalkeepers

Aly Winget (2002-05), Lindsey Harris (2013-16), and Anne Sherow (1985-88) have almost every major goalkeeping record locked up for North Carolina women’s soccer between the three of them.

Anne Sherow |1985-1988

Sherow’s save percentage not only ranks as No. 1 for Tar Heel women’s soccer, but No. 1 in all of NCAA women’s soccer. Sherow recorded a save percentage of .972 (24 games, 35 saves,1 goal). Sherow also holds the NCAA record for goals against average in a single season with 0.052, and in a single career, with a goals against average of 0.143 through 2,500 minutes. During Sherow’s time at North Carolina, she was only scored on four times, with four goals allowed in 2,525 minutes played. Sherow was a three-time national champion at North Carolina.

Aly Winget | 2003-2005

Winget has the career record for saves, with 216, as well as solo shutouts, with 35. Winget recorded her 216 saves through 90 games. Winget also has the most minutes played of any goalkeeper in North Carolina women’s soccer history with 7,906. She also leads the record books in saves per game with 2.35. Winget was a three-year starter for North Carolina as well as a national champion in 2003.

Lindsey Harris | 2013-2016

While at North Carolina, Harris finished second in saves per game with 2.28, only behind Winget. Harris also finished second in all-time saves during her career at North Carolina with 148, a record that is also only second best to Winget. She recorded the most saves in a single season with 96 during the 2016 campaign. Harris is the only goalkeeper on our list that was not crowned a national champion during her time at North Carolina.

All-time defenders

Carla Overbeck | 1986-1989

Overbeck was a powerhouse on defense who helped lead North Carolina to four NCAA championships. With Overbeck on the roster, North Carolina did not lose a single game in her college career, compiling a record of 89-0-6 from 1986-89. Overbeck is just one of three women in history win an NCAA championship, an Olympic gold medal, a World Cup championship and the Women’s United Soccer Association Founders Cup championship. She is joined by Tisha Venturini and Mia Hamm in accomplishing this feat. Overbeck was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006.

Staci Wilson | 1994-1997

Tabbed by North Carolina’s media book as “one of the toughest defenders in history”, Wilson was part of some of the most dominant years in the history of the Tar Heel defense. Wilson was the co-player of the year in 1995 and managed to be a constant offensive threat even from a defensive position, known to make well timed runs to get in on the attack. Early in her career at North Carolina, Wilson was also the Freshman of the Year and a All-ACC selection every year during her time in Chapel Hill.

Cat Reddick | 2000-2003

Reddick did not start a single game during her freshman year at North Carolina until the very last match of the season — the 2000 national championship against UCLA. Reddick went on to score the game-winning goal in that game and be named the Most Valuable Defensive Player of the 2000 NCAA College Cup. Months later, Reddick was pulled to the U.S. women’s national team. She ended her career at North Carolina as the 2003 National Player of the Year, as well as the Honda Award winner for soccer and the MAC Hermann Trophy winner.

Lucy Bronze | 2009

Bronze became the first British player to win an NCAA title when the Tar Heels won it all in 2009. Though much of Bronze’s renowned success came after her one-year stint at North Carolina when she was named the FIFA Player of the Year in 2020, she will still be known as one of the all-time great defenders to come through North Carolina.

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All-time midfielders

Shannon Higgins | 1988-1991

Known as one of the most clutch players to come through the program, Higgins was a two-time national player of the year in 1988 and 1989. Higgins is well known for her three goals scored in North Carolina’s 4-1 victory over NC State in the 1988 national championship game, where she subsequently was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player. Higgins is one of just under a dozen players with her jersey (No. 3) retired by the university.

Kristine Lilly | 1990-1993

Lilly is one of the greatest players of all time, period. Lilly’s legacy at North Carolina included outstanding feats, like finishing as the third-leading scorer in ACC history with 197 points, winning four national championships, having her jersey retired and finishing second in league history in goals with 78 and is eighth in assists with 41, as well as fifth in school history in scoring with 197 points and fourth in goals scored with 78. Lilly won countless awards as the National Player of the Year, NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player in 1990 and 1991 and the ACC Player of the Year 1991 (just to name a few). Lilly’s impact at North Carolina and beyond cannot be overstated as the all-time leader in total caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team and a two-time gold medalist and World Cup champion. During Lilly’s time at North Carolina, the Tar Heels had a record of 93-1-2.

Tisha Venturini | 1991-1994

Tisha Venturini is the only athlete who has four NCAA championships, an Olympic Gold medal, a World Cup championship and a professional championship. Venturini led the Tar Heels to a 97-1-1 record in her four-year career, including four national titles, four first-team All-ACC nominations as well as four NCAA All-Tournament Team selections. Venturini finished her career as the Honda player of the Year, the Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America player of the year, the Soccer America player of the year and College Sports player of the year.

Cindy Parlow | 1995-1998

Parlow is the youngest player to ever win a Women’s World Cup title and an Olympic gold medal. Parlow was a three-time national player of the year in 1996, 1997 and 1998. She also won a pair of national championships and was named the MAC Hermann Trophy award winner in 1997 and 1998. Parlow recorded 68 goals and 53 assists during her collegiate career and is one of 10 players in the program’s history to record 40 or more goals and assists in a career. Parlow also made a huge impact on the international stage, as she is among the U.S. Women’s National Team’s all-time leading scorers with 75 goals and 35 assists in 158 career appearances. 

Tobin Heath | 2006-2009

Tobin Heath is one of the most technically gifted and creative midfielders known to come through North Carolina. Heath took a break from high school soccer her senior year to train with boys before coming to Chapel Hill. Heath was an Olympic gold medalist even before she left North Carolina, where she was part of the squad that brought home the gold in 2008. While at North Carolina, Heath was a two-time first-team All-America selection, an All-ACC selection a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist and a Soccer Buzz National Player of the Year finalist. Anson Dorrance tabs her “an American player with Brazilian-like skills” and someone who possesses special one vs. one capabilities.

All-time forwards

April Heinrichs | 1983-1986

Labeled by UNC Athletic Communications as “the first of the truly great players in Carolina’s storied women’s soccer history. Also the first true superstar in women’s college soccer,” Heinrichs was a pioneer for superstars in the women’s college game and she was the first player to have a jersey retired (No. 2) at North Carolina. Heinrichs ranks second in North Carolina history in scoring with 225 points, third in goals scored with 87 and fifth in assists with 51. Heinrichs is a three-time national champion and two-time National Player of the Year in 1984 and 1986. Heinrichs was also the overall Most Valuable Player of the 1984 NCAA championships and the Most Valuable Offensive Player of the 1985 and 1986 NCAA championships.

Mia Hamm | 1989-1993

Mia Hamm’s name is synonymous with women’s soccer. She became an icon even before her time at North Carolina when she was the youngest player to ever start for the U.S. Women’s National Team at 15. A four-time champion, she is a record-shattering star that helped the Tar Heels cement their status as a college soccer dynasty. Hamm is a 4-time NCAA national champion, three-time first-team All-American selection, two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner in 1992 and 1993, the first two-time winner in the award’s history and led college soccer in scoring during the 1990, 1992 and 1993 seasons. Hamm owns the single-season record for points with 97 in 1992. She had 32 goals and 33 assists in 25 games. Hamm also ranks top 5 all-time in career points (278), career goals (103) and career assists (72). During Hamm’s time at North Carolina, she won 92 games, lost once and tied twice during her entire career. Regarded as one of the greatest player to ever set foot on the pitch, Hamm has certainly been the face of North Carolina women’s soccer ever since she first stepped foot on campus.

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Heather O’Reilly | 2003-2006

Before O’Reilly took her place as the assistant coach for North Carolina women’s soccer, she was one of the most successful players the program has seen, with three Olympic gold medals and a FIFA World Cup title. During her time in college, she left for national team duty and scored one of the most important goals in Olympic women’s soccer history, helping the U.S. to the Olympic gold medal in 2004. O’Reilly was twice named the MVP of the College Cup, the 2006 National Player of the Year and a first-team All-America selection the final three years of her college career. O’Reilly finished her tenure tied for 10th in goals at North Carolina with 59, 11th in points with 167 and 12th in assists with 49.

Crystal Dunn | 2009-2012

Dunn finished her Tar Heel career as one of the most decorated players in history. In 2012, Dunn became the first Tar Heel underclassman to win National Player of the Year since 2008. Dunn won the Hermann Trophy, the Honda Sports Award for soccer, the National Player of the Year by Soccer America and by Soccer News Net. She was also a finalist for the 2013 ESPY for Female College Athlete of the Year and the Mary Garber Award as the Female Athlete of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference. She was the first Tar Heel to win that award since Whitney Engen in 2010. Dunn went on to win an Olympic Gold medal as well as a FIFA Women’s World Cup title.

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