[TOP 5 PREVIEW] On paper, this should be a rebuilding year for North Carolina. After losing in the 2008 Men's College Cup final and 2009 and 2010 semifinals,
Coach Elmer Bolowich left to take men's job at Creighton and Jalil Anibaba, Michael
Farfan, Stephen McCarthy and Alex Dixon all moved on to MLS, where they are receiving considerable playing time.
But Carlos Somoano, Bolowich's longtime assistant, has more than enough talent on hand to make the Tar Heels the best of the ACC.
Anibaba, Farfan and McCarthy were all transfers, and two more established stars should play key roles for UNC in their first seasons in Chapel Hill.
Matt Hedges played three seasons at Butler and is a Preseason All-American. Ben Speas was the 12th man on Akron's 2010 NCAA championship team as a sophomore.
UNC's top two scorers from last season, Enzo Martinez (10 goals, 5 assists) and Kirk Urso (5 goals, 5 assists), return in midfield, where Cameron Brown is back after being injured last season.
Also back after missing all but two games last season is Billy Schuler, who scored 13 goals in his first two seasons and was an NSCAA All-American in 2009.
(Another red-shirt returning in 2011 is Anton Sealey, whose father is a Bahamian soccer official credited with turning in Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam in the soccer scandal that rocked FIFA.)
Perhaps the top freshmen are U.S. under-18 national team defenders Boyd Okwuonu and Jordan McCrary, who will join the defensive corps led by goalie Scott Goodwin (11 shutouts as a freshman), senior defender Drew McKinney and Hedges.
The Tar Heels should make a seamless transition from Bolowich to Somoano, who was UNC's top assistant for the last nine years.
Carolina will have opportunity to get revenge for its loss to Louisville in the semifinals of the 2010 Men's College Cup when they host the No. 1 Cardinals on Sept. 4.
Aug. 27 vs. UNC Wilmington, 7 p.m. ET
Sept. 2 vs. Oregon State, 7 p.m. ET
Sept. 4 vs. Louisville, 7 p.m. ET
Sept. 10 at Virginia Tech *, 7 p.m. ET
Sept. 13 vs. James Madison, 7 p.m. ET
Sept. 16 at Wake Forest *, 7 p.m. ET
Sept. 20 at Wofford, 7 p.m. ET
Sept. 23 at Virginia *, 7 p.m. ET
Sept. 27 vs. Old Dominion, 7 p.m. ET
Sept. 30 vs. Duke *, 7 p.m. ET
Oct. 4 vs. UNC Asheville, 7 p.m. ET
Oct. 7 vs. Clemson *, 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 14 vs. College of Charleston, 7 p.m. ET
Oct. 18 at Davidson, 7 p.m. ET
Oct. 21 vs. Maryland *, 5:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 25 at South Carolina, 7 p.m. ET
Oct. 28 vs. NC State *, 7 p.m. ET
Nov. 2 at Boston College *, 7 p.m. ET
Nov. 7-8 First Round-Quarterfinals, TBA
Nov. 11-13 Semifinals-Final WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, N.C.
Tomorrow: #4 Akron