Soccer player

Tar Heels in the pros: Former UNC women’s soccer player Crystal Dunn excels as Portland Thorn

Going into her freshman year, former UNC women’s soccer star Crystal Dunn’s recruiting class had yet to win a national championship, and she took that to heart.

“We have a tradition of regularly winning national championships,” said head coach Anson Dorrance. “For us not to win while she was there was ridiculous because she was absolutely an elite player.”

In the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Dunn’s golden goal in the quarterfinals against BYU, an assist in the semifinals against Stanford, and a late-game assist for the title against Penn State helped UNC women’s soccer win his last national title.

Dunn, who played for the Tar Heels from 2010 to 2013, is one of the most high-profile athletes to come out of Chapel Hill in the past decade. With her 2021 CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year award following her final season with the Portland Thorns and a 2019 World Cup victory with the United States Women’s National Team, Dunn’s success at the professional level parallels her his time at UNC.

“There is a child who leaves our environment as the best player and moves on to the next environment, and what happens?” said Dorrance. “She becomes the best player.”

During his years at UNC, Dunn played everywhere, with starts in defense, midfield and as a forward. After being named Soccer America Freshman of the Year, she won a world title in 2012 with the U-20 national team at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan.

Dunn’s college career is proof of her flexibility and insight as a player. Dunn is unique in his ability to excel in any position on the pitch, and that versatility is key to his success.

Dunn was the first pick in the 2014 NWSL College Draft, selected by the Washington Spirit.

But after being rejected for the 2015 USWNT World Cup roster, she spent the next four years vying for roster placement.

“I think 2015 to 2019 was about rediscovering my joy in this game and finding a reason to want to compete again and be the best version of myself every day,” she said. declared.

In 2018 with the North Carolina Courage, Dunn stood out on an all-star list with Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald. The team won the NWSL Championship and the NWSL Shield titles after a 3–0 win over the Portland Thorns in the final.

According to Merritt Mathias, Dunn’s former teammate on the Courage, the team’s snowballing success in the 2018 season would not have been possible without Dunn.

“For 2018 to go the way it did, which was a historic year in the NWSL and for this team, I think that just reflects the mindset of the players who were there, the state of spirit of someone like Crystal,” Mathias said.

Four years after being the last cut of the 2015 USWNT World Cup roster, Dunn’s appearance at left-back at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup highlighted her resounding success on one of the biggest stages in women’s football.

“To be able to lift the trophy at the end, it really made me feel like I’ve been through everything I’ve been through for a reason,” Dunn said of his 2019 World Cup victory. And that all the sacrifices I made really mattered and it added up and ultimately got me to the goal in the end.”

Since the 2019 Women’s World Cup, Dunn has passed the 100 cap milestone and won a bronze medal with Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Dunn was traded to the Portland Thorns in 2020 which allowed her to spend more time with her family. Dunn’s husband, Pierre Soubrier, works as a coach for the Thorns. In November, Dunn and Soubrier announced they were expecting their first child.

Even though Dunn makes time to spend time with his family, football is always on his mind. Last spring, nearing the end of her third trimester, Dunn was still training and performing drills with the team with less contact and impact play. She gave birth to her first son, Marcel, with husband Pierre Soubrier on May 20.

“After the Olympics, I definitely saw a window to start a family. It worked out with the timing, and my husband was obviously on board. Dunn said. “Next year is a World Cup , and it’s a very important year for women’s football, and obviously my hope is to be back in full force to be ready to compete for a national team.”


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