The scream of pain and anguish last spring told everyone that Joey Seivold's senior season was over. And Seivold knew it, too, when he saw the team trainer push his right kneecap from the side of his leg back where it belonged.
Moments before, North Carolina's two-time All-America midfielder had taken a ground ball from the opening face-off and charged straight to the goal for a shot. As Seivold (pronounced SIGH-vold) leapt into the air to fire from 15 yards out, three Syracuse players hit him from the front and side. When Seivold landed, his right leg bent sideways at a 45-degree angle, dislocating the patella. The entire sequence took just 17 seconds in the Tar Heels' first 1986 home game.
"When Joey got hurt, I immediately felt that a lot more was asked of me," says Gary Seivold, Joey's younger brother by 21 months and a three-year starting attackman at UNC. Nearly all his life, Gary had lived comfortably in his brother's shadow, but now a full season lay ahead, and more would be expected of him than ever before.
For much of that season, Gary struggled, as did the team. However, UNC held on for an 8-3 regular-season record and salvaged a fifth seed in the NCAA tournament. That's when the Heels started clicking.
In the semifinals against defending champion Johns Hopkins, the score was 9-9 in overtime when Gary, his legs and stick a blur of motion, took the ball at midfield and fed a blind pass to Mike Tummillo for the winning goal. Then, in a 10-9 victory over Virginia in the final, Gary had two more assists, scored two goals—including the game-winner in OT—and was named the game's MVP.
"All of a sudden, Gary had started to keep after it," says Willie Scroggs, who in eight years at Chapel Hill has won three national titles and guided the Tar Heels to at least the semifinals in each of the last seven years. "Down the stretch he was probably the best attackman anybody had."
And now he's not alone. Late last spring the ACC granted Joey a medical hardship and another season of eligibility, and the two brothers have just led Carolina to another 8-3 regular-season record that could easily have been 10-1 but for one-goal losses to Johns Hopkins and Duke. Joey had 13 goals and 8 assists, and little brother Gary led the team in scoring with 19 goals and 13 assists. In Saturday night's season-ending 18-7 win over Virginia, Joey had two feeds and Gary one. The Heels are sure to be a high seed in the NCAA tournament that begins on May 13.
"It was tough for them this year because they were expected to walk on water, but I would still expect them to have a strong tournament." says Virginia coach Jim Adams. That would be business as usual for North Carolina, which under Scroggs has an 18-13 regular-season conference record and a 13-4 NCAA postseason mark.
The Seivold brothers are just two stars on a team of stars—and brothers. Defenseman Tom Haus, the 1986 national player of the year, is joined by his kid brother, Kevin, also a defenseman; and All-America Pat Welsh, UNC's leading scorer in 1986, teams with older brother Tim at midfield. Four other players had brothers on previous UNC squads, and next year's recruits include the brothers of three current Tar Heel players. "We've done unbelievably well in the brother department," says Scroggs. However, no fraternal pair has outperformed the Seivolds.
Although Joey and Gary look and act like siblings, they are dissimilar in many ways. "Joey is very vocal and very outgoing, but Gary may not have said a whole sentence to me in the last four years," says Scroggs. Gary found the interviews after last year's title game excruciating. "Gary learned to stay quiet," says Joey. "Anytime I got into trouble for coming home late or denting up the car, Gary could see that, and he learned from my mistakes."