The Carolina soccer program has been far from spoiled for glory. Though we’ve a lot of history to be proud of, the program has only two national titles to its name. The most recent came in 2011 in the first season with Coach Carlos Somoano at the helm. The only previous title came under his predecessor, Elmar Bolowich. The title was Bolowich’s only trophy at Carolina besides the 2000 ACC championship.
Bolowich took over the team in 1988, from Anson Dorrance, who prior to this point had coached both men’s and women’s soccer. Even Anson Dorrance couldn’t duplicate with the men the program’s dominance in the women’s game, but under Bolowich Carolina built a strong team which was seemingly always a contender without even being champion. 2001 finally broke the Tar Heels’ duck in the College Cup and showed the collegiate world that the Carolina men could win the big one.
The 2001 season was one of ups and downs, though one in which the highs definitely outweighed the lows. Shelling East Carolina, Georgia State, and South Florida, outclassing NC State, and winning all but 2 games in the ACC made up for losses to traditional powers Virginia and St. Louis as well as games dropped to Wake and Clemson in the ACC regular season and the ACC final, respectively. After dropping the ACC final the Heels refused to quit, and although Farleigh Dickinson and Stanford both put up a fight the Tar Heels were able to keep the final under control.
The 2001 team was graced by attacking and defensive College Cup Most Valuable Players Ryan Kneipper and David Stokes, but saw help in the scoring department form David Testo, Marcus Storey, and Mike Gell. Matt Crawford and Noz Yamuachi added 8 and 11 assists, almost unheard of figures for players with only a few goals to their names. Captain Sean McGinty led the team that year.
From the ’01 team emerged a few notable MLS players, with Chris Leitch and Matt Crawford becoming key players for their clubs and Logan Pause becoming a star at Chicago Fire and playing for the USMNT. All but one player from the squad ended up being drafted to the MLS. The exception was David Testo, whose brilliant touch and ability on the ball helped him to a long and successful USL career before he came out in 2012 as a homosexual, one of the first major American athletes to do so. Grant Porter even went on to become a UNC Assistant Coach, having a hand in 2 national titles.
With just 2 titles thus far for the program, one cannot say that we’re the top team historically, but with the performances we’ve seen under Carlos Somoano and the players in the team, there’s no doubt that the Tar Heels may add to the tally in the next few years.