I've finished rewatching the game today and I came away thoroughly confused as to what formation UNC was using. A 3 back continues to be used and I do NOT understand that. It just doesn't suite this team at all and it has been exposed multiple times on counter attacks. It's theory craft 101 that the 3 back is weak against counter attacks and you shouldn't use it if you like to possess and push numbers forward. I see no obvious benefit in persistently using it with plenty of cons against. Maycee Bell and Emerson Elgin just get pulled too far from center while sustaining possession. It puts too much pressure (or too much incentive) on Bell to push forward and become involved in the attack. It removes Emily Moxley and the threat of her glorious diagonals and crosses from the flanks. In recent years it seemed like UNC was more than just gradually moving away from the back three and I was encouraged by it. It was both a sign of a more sophisticated decision making process and also a desire to push numbers forward intelligently and with possession in mind. This year both the three back and the experiment with the box four in midfield felt like novelty for novelty's sake with no obvious benefit and plenty of cons against. They've fixed the issues mostly in midfield and gone generally in the direction I like, but it feels like we've gotten a shadow of what should have been the best back line in the country this year. There's been a reliable blueprint for success that has existed for nearly twenty years when you play the way UNC wants to play. When you have a team as good as UNC who play at their best when committing numbers forward both in a high press and in patient build up. It's Arsène Wenger's Arsenal from the 2000's. It's the 4231. It's a target forward with two speedy wingers and a triangle of highly capable midfielders who combine well and overlap through the middle with intelligence. It's a 4 back with outside backs that pick and choose the right moments to get forward. It's exactly what UNC has in spades and exactly what we see from UNC when they are at their best.