In uncertain season, UNC women's soccer plans to play with urgency

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Brianna Pinto did not shy away from setting the expectation when she committed to North Carolina three years ago.

The Jordan High School star told ABC11 then, "My freshman year at Carolina we're going to win a national championship."

She was this close to nailing it too. The Heels fell 1-0 to Florida State in the title game. In 2019 they were back again and again came up just short vs. Stanford, this time in penalty kicks.

Now a star junior midfielder, Pinto stands by her bold high school words.

"It's great to know that the program that I ultimately chose competes for national championships every single year" Pinto said Wednesday "and I think you learn a lot throughout that process like, even if you do end up losing.

Though the NCAA board voted Wednesday to proceed with Fall championships in the spring, it has yet to receive full approval and there is no guarantee UNC will have its full roster then and that puts the emphasis on now.

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"We're essentially treating the ACC Championship as though it's going to be our national championship this year because we don't know how many seniors will be able to stay for the spring if we have a tournament then," explained junior forward Rachel Jones "so we want that to be like, our last sendoff for them and let them leave with a ring on their finger hopefully."

Going back-to-back as conference champs would be extra rewarding given the fact that having any season at all was very much in the balance.

"I didn't want to give up hope because I know that my teammates and I put in a lot of preparation to be fit and be prepared, both mentally and physically." Pinto said.

Jones added: "Definitely the ending of last season has been my main motivator and wanting us to be able to finally finish maybe another five minutes where we get a goal, like, unlike the past two years."

So, it begins with Wake Forest on Thursday night at Dorrance Field. Pinto cannot wait.

"I just hope that everybody brings the pent-up angst and excitement of the last six months, and that we leave it all on the field," she said.
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