FIELD HOCKEY: North Carolina 9, Appalachian State 1

UNC field hockey gains momentum with 9-1 win over Appalachian State

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UNC midfielder Catherine Hayden (8) winds up for a shot against Appalachian State on Sunday.

UNC got exactly what it was looking for Sunday, as they outshot Appalachian State 34-2 en route to a dominant 9-1 victory.

“It’s a nice day for the Carolina community all the way around,” Head Coach Karen Shelton said.

On senior day at Henry Stadium, the Tar Heels (15-4) were relentless on the attack, creating myriad chances. North Carolina used stick skills, intricate passing and penalty corners to put pressure on the Mountaineers (1-14). UNC could have easily had three or four more goals, as Appalachian State keeper Rachel Gaines made 13 saves.

With the Mountaineers — coached by UNC field hockey alum Meghan Dawson — coming off a 9-1 loss to No. 18 Wake Forest on Friday, the Tar Heels knew there would be plenty of chances to score.

“We just wanted to keep playing how we were playing all season,” senior Lauren Moyer said. “Come out fast, and then score a lot of goals — make it really fun for everyone on the team, especially the seniors.”

Shelton started every graduating senior to open the game, subbing in many of her reserve players as the scoring opened up. This created chances for players like redshirt first-year Catherine Hayden, who picked up two goals to double her season total and added an assist on the final goal of the game.

Sunday’s win served as a swan song to the regular season for the Tar Heels. After dropping the final two games of ACC play to No. 7 Louisville and No. 1 Duke on the road, UNC picked up wins against Liberty and Old Dominion to build some momentum heading into the ACC tournament.

UNC, the No. 5 seed, begins its tournament championship defense against Louisville at 11 a.m. on Thursday on Wake Forest’s campus in Winston-Salem.

“We have a good idea about what we need to do and what we need to fix and how we should play against them,” Hayden said.

NCAA tournament seeding will be affected by the results in Winston-Salem. Shelton said if UNC wins two games in the tournament to make the finals, she thinks the Tar Heels will have a good chance of securing a top-4 seed nationally and the host site that comes with it.

Shelton hopes the momentum from the final nonconference games will help the team with its tournament run.

“We know we have a tall task with Louisville, but we also have a bit of a revenge factor,” Shelton said. “They beat us on their home field, and now we have a chance to beat them on a neutral site — and a lot’s at stake. So I think our kids will be ready on Thursday.”

@sjdoughton

sports@dailytarheel.com

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