Abby Allen wasn’t sure what to expect in July when she arrived in Chapel Hill, N.C. A fall season was no certainty, and she hadn’t played a competitive match since a March tournament with the U.S. under-19 national team in Spain.
Nine matches into her North Carolina career, the Austin product is already irreplaceable. Allen is part of a back line that has only conceded three goals in 2020. The No. 1-ranked Tar Heels are a perfect 9-0 heading to the ACC Tournament next week.
“I didn’t ever think that I would actually be starting and playing the whole game,” said Allen, who made her first start on Oct. 1 against Clemson and hasn’t looked back.
She took over the role vacated by senior Lotte Wubben-Moy, who opted to stay in her native country of England due to the uncertainty of the season and turned pro with Arsenal in September.
Allen, part of a freshman-sophomore center back pairing with Maycee Bell, hasn’t missed a minute since she cracked the lineup. Bell and Allen, along with Emily Fox and Julia Dorsey, have proven to be a near impenetrable force.
“I’m very, very pleased with the way this defense is playing. That back four and the goalkeeper, these are very elite players,” UNC coach Anson Dorrance said following a 2-0 win over Notre Dame on Sunday to close the fall regular season.
Allen, 18, is one of three elite soccer-playing sisters from Lake Travis High School. Her older sister, Carlee, has started every match in the midfield for Texas this season as a junior, and younger sister Mallory, a junior at Lake Travis, is committed to Colorado. The trio sharpened each other’s games this spring and summer during lockdown with guidance from parents Chad and Michele, who were both four-year starters in basketball for SMU.
Soccer, particularly the competition offered by Lonestar Soccer Club, was no small part of the Allens’ decision to move to Austin in 2012, and now the city can claim one of the nation’s rising stars. It’s clear Abby is right at home in the program that’s produced dozens of U.S. national team stars — from Mia Hamm to Tobin Heath — who all played under Dorrance.
“Coming in, it was a little bit intimidating,” said Allen, who’s been a regular pick for U.S. youth national teams since she was 13. “But getting to know everyone and playing with everyone, it’s a lot more chill than you would expect. We have no rules, but I think Anson is able to do that just because of the people that are here. Everybody wants to do their best, and that’s why the culture here is so great.”
Soccer train: Austin soccer fans were especially interested in one election result on Tuesday, and the result means there will be another transportation option at McKalla Place. Included in Proposition A, Austin’s multi-billion rail line mass transit plan, was a rail stop at the 20,500-seat MLS venue.
“Austin FC looks forward to being