[NORTH CAROLINA WOMEN] North Carolina sophomore Rachel Woodhas not only battled back from Crohn's Disease -- an illness that causes inflammation of the intestines -- and returned to school, she has won a starting job at center back on the top-ranked Tar Heels.
Wood started both games last weekend at the Texas A&M Tournament and played 90 minutes in both games, 3-0 wins over both the host Aggies and Michigan State.
Wood was a reserve for most of her freshman season but started all three games at the 2008 ACC Tournament. She returned home to Laguna Niguel, Calif. to deal with her debilitating illness and missed the 2009 season.
She rejoined the Tar Heels this summer and won the job at center back previously held by Whitney Engen. With her size (6-foot) and speed (she was a track star in high school), she suits Carolina's physical game perfectly.
"It's seriously so great to be so back," she said after Sunday's win over Michigan State. "There was a point where I didn't think I would be able to play again. I feel like I've been given a second chance. I'm just taking everything in. It's unbelievable."
Carolina's defense was excellent at the Texas A&M Tournament.
"We don't try lo let anyone intimidate us," he said. "We always just go out and play 100 percent. We know we have to play high defense. And our team defense all over the field was absolutely fantastic. Everyone was doubling back, winning ball in the air and on the ground, and everyone just won their individual battles."
The Heels will have to win those individual battles Friday at Fetzer Field.
They face No. 2 Stanford in a rematch of last year's Women's College Cup final UNC won, 1-0, to snap the Cardinal's 25-game winning streak.