The first college women’s varsity soccer team was established at Castleton State College in Castleton VT in the mid 1960s. A major factor in the growth of women’s college soccer was the passage of the Educational Amendments of 1972, which included Title IX that mandated equal access and equal spending on athletic programs at college institutions. As a result, college varsity soccer programs for women were established.
By 1981, there were about a 100 varsity programs established in NCAA women’s soccer, and even more club teams. The AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women), a was established in the mid 1970s and began sponsoring women’s varsity programs. It establishing an informal national championship in 1980, which Cortland State won. A year later in 1981, the tournament was hosted by the University of North Carolina, which ended up winning the tournament as well. In 1982, the NCAA began to sponsor women’s sports and all schools switched into the NCAA. One major difference in the growth of women’s college soccer unlike mens, was that it did not start out primarily in one region of the country and spread through the decades. With help from men’s soccer, the women’s program was able to take root all over the country at once, and grow from there. The University of North Carolina, coached by Anson Dorrance, immediately stood out as the ones to beat in the women’s college game and remain that way up unto today. Of the first 20 NCAA championships, 16 were won by UNC, including nine in a row from 1986-1994.