Every Thursday, correspondent Sean Grybos will be giving us a look at the weekend ahead in soccer.
Chapel Hill Clash and Western New York Flash Pace the Weekend Schedule
Starting Friday at Fetzer Field, the UNC women host the Carolina Nike Classic, a four-team tournament. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils both play Notre Dame over the weekend. Houston also received an invite.
Notre Dame, the number-one ranked team in the nation as well as the 2010 NCAA champion, and the third-ranked Tar Heels (1-0-0) clash on Friday night. The Irish face the Blue Devils (2-0-0) on Sunday.
In addition to Notre Dame, Houston takes to the pitch against the Tobacco Road squads with Duke on Friday and UNC on Sunday. The Cougars, coached by former Tar Heel Susan Bush, can bank on traveling back to Texas winless.
It’s really hard to be good at sports in Chapel Hill without anyone noticing. With a sports-crazed student body and membership in one of the nation’s best all-around athletic conferences, UNC-Chapel Hill is the sort of place where the women’s soccer coach is a national celebrity and 1,300 free Americans once attended a field hockey match without anyone threatening to kill them if they didn’t.
Yet somehow, the North Carolina men’s soccer program exists in obscurity. The Carolina Blues have gone to the College Cup- soccer’s Final Four- in three consecutive years, and have missed just one NCAA Tournament since 1999. But when the winningest coach in program history resigned after 22 years to go be the head coach at Creighton (CREIGHTON!), the reaction on campus ranged from “Who?” to “ …oh.” After all, Elmar Bolowich announced his resignation just hours before the first Carolina-Duke basketball game.
Unlike the University’s higher-profile non-revenues, the men’s soccer team does not have a history of dominance (women’s soccer), nor a string of ESPN appearances in the dead of summer (baseball) nor a cultish bro following (men’s lacrosse) to prop it up. But while the No. 3 Tar Heels won’t get the same attention as some of its Olympic sports peers when it opens its season Saturday at home against UNC-Wilmington, they could very well be the best of the bunch.
They’re both out.
Here are five tough non-conference games for Duke, and five notable teams UNC will surely destroy on their way to an undefeated national championship:
We’re rolling out new features like crazy today. This week’s question is inspired by a comment in yesterday’s Erwin Cup rules post about the possibility of Duke and UNC meeting in the NCAA basketball tournament. I assigned the winner of this hypothetical game 30 points, the most of any potential match-up, because I think life might literally come to a halt on Tobacco Road if it ever happened. So, the question:
Would you want Duke and UNC to meet in the NCAA basketball tournament?
It’s never happened before, which is kind of insane. It’s almost like the sporting gods get together to plan it, start considering the fallout, and decide they don’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole.
Every week, more or less, we’ll be choosing one comment from the previous week that made our hearts swell with joy, pride, or love. Then we’ll be choosing another that made the rest of our organs swell with shame, hilarity, or disgust. All comments are printed as written.
In last week’s rivalry post, which sought to determine whether an argument could be made for Duke-UNC as the greatest American rivalry, Zeke brought up an excellent point:
The W.A. Erwin Cup is year-long competition between Duke and UNC to determine which school had the superior year in athletics. It takes every sport into account, and leaves no stone unturned. This is the people’s alternative to the insufficient Carlyle Cup. Don’t miss part one, which reviewed the history that led us to this point and explained the origin story of W.A. Erwin.
Now, it’s on to the rules! Please note that these rules are sort of like the draft you turn in just before the final draft. We welcome reader feedback. If you see a flaw in the system, or just have an idea for improvement, let us know in the comments. It will be helpful, I promise, and we’ll give you special recognition for having made an amendment.
Part Two: RULES
Part One: Background
Ladies and gentlemen, today is an important day in our historic rivalry. Today, we cease to be indebted to a tire company’s notion of Duke and Carolina. Today, we honor a man whose name spans two schools, and yet is all but forgotten to history. Today, we seek at long last to honestly measure the year-long merit of the schools closest to our heart. Today, the fight begins in earnest.
Thus, we introduce:
The W.A. Erwin Cup
The good stuff is coming, but bear with me now as I take you through a tour of the history and background that led us to this critical point.
Mostly, I’m happy to be done with China. Countries with hideous institutional morals always make me slightly nervous. There’s something creepy about the fact that the spiritual decrepitude comes from on high; you can tell they actually don’t care about things like cheating. It’s the same thing that was so unsettling about the Soviet Union. You know the saying, ‘the ends justify the means’? That’s a very western idea, like it’s okay to be a dick as long as you can explain it with a good reason. ‘Hey guys, I know this looks bad, but I promise it’s for a higher purpose.’
In China, I’m pretty sure they don’t care one iota about justifying the means. It’s just: HEY, LOOK: THE ENDS! A sweet Olympic opening ceremony! (Forget the dead people.) A win over Georgetown! (Forget the horrendous refereeing.) A gold medal! (Forget that the gymnasts were 12.) A robust industrial complex! (Forget that we’re quite literally killing the planet.)
Sometimes in life, you have to be prepared.
Tomorrow morning, at 8am, Duke plays their third game against the U-23 Chinese national team. This one’s in Beijing, the site of the now-infamous Beijing Brawl between Georgetown and the Bayi Rockets. Painful as it is to admit, the Hoyas lost that fight convincingly. Bayi is a professional squad affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, and this wasn’t their first rodeo. Also, they were older than Georgetown and presumably trained in hand-to-hand combat. Georgetown has a reputation as a tough Big East school who recruits from the inner cities, but their guys were plainly not prepared for what the Chinese Army was laying down.
Duke, on the other hand, has a reputation for recruiting kids from middle- and upper-class backgrounds; kids that grew up in less gritty environments, with presumably fewer opportunities to fight. One thing I couldn’t help thinking after watching Georgetown get battered was, ‘holy shit, thank God that wasn’t Duke.’ It would have been even more vicious, and I would have been even more angry afterward.
It’s time to get the ball rolling at Koskinen Stadium for the Duke women’s soccer team, who open the season tonight with a 7pm home match against Army.
This year’s team is looking to build on their Sweet 16 loss to Oklahoma State, and they have an excellent chance to improve their situation as they return all 11 starters from last year’s team. This year’s squad will be led by captains Molly Lester (red shirt senior), Ashley Rape (senior) and Tara Campbell (junior).
Posted in Duke
Tagged Ali Kershner, Army, Ashley Rape, Audrey Gibson, Boston College, Florida State, Katie Trees, Katy Colas, Kelly Cobb, Koskinen Stadium, Maryland, Molly Lester, Notre Dame, Tabria Williford, Tara Campbell, Texas A&M, Virginia, Wake Forest, Women's Soccer