Anson Dorrance

The premier coach of women’s soccer in the United States or anywhere in the world in the 1980s and ’90s, coaching the University of North Carolina powerhouse and the U.S. national team that won the first Women’s World Cup.

Dorrance became coach of the North Carolina team in 1979, two years before the first national championship tournament, held by the AIAW. North Carolina won that tournament, and kept winning when the NCAA took over the running of the tournament the following year. In the first 25 years that the NCAA tournament was held, Dorrance’s North Carolina team won the championship 18 times. Along the way, it surpassed the UCLA men’s basketball team of the 1960s and ’70s as statistically the greatest dynasty in American collegiate sports history.

Dorrance added the role of national team coach to his duties in 1986, the second year of the women’s national team’s existence. He coached the national team until 1994, compiling 65 victories, 22 defeats and five ties. By far the most significant of those victories was the 2-1 triumph over Norway in the championship game of the first Women’s World Cup in Guangzhou, China, in 1991.

During his time as national team coach, Dorrance continued to coach the North Carolina team as well. When he retired from the national-team job in 1994, he gave as his reason to be able to devote more time to North Carolina. At North Carolina, his teams over the years have included some of the national team’s best players, among them Hall of Famers April Heinrichs, Shannon Higgins, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Carla Overbeck.

Inducted in 2008.

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