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The Daily Tar Heel

Seniors Hope Home Game Won't Be Last

"You're gonna miss," yelled North Carolina field hockey manager Sam Trogdon. Martin's weapon of choice was a soccer ball, not something usually found at the stadium.

Martin neared the goal and kicked without slowing her run. She missed wide by 10 feet.

"That would have been in if it was a soccer goal," Martin called back to Trogdon. "That's why I play field hockey."

Martin's impromptu drive with the wrong kind of ball marked the end of the Tar Heels' last practice before fifth-ranked Michigan comes to town for a

2 p.m. match today.

The Tar Heels (13-1, 2-0 in the ACC) have already handled the Wolverines once this year. UNC stopped Michigan 4-2 in St. Louis as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Sept. 3.

The mood as practice closed was light as players hung around chatting and joking. But five Tar Heels weren't part of the group - UNC coach Karen Shelton held court on the field with her seniors.

"I'm very fond of the girls, and they've meant the world to the program," Shelton said of backs Erin Cox and Jana Toepel and forwards Holly Huff, Kristen McCann and Kate Sidebottom.

Friday's game is Senior Day and possibly the last home game at Henry Stadium for these five.

"It hasn't hit me yet," Cox said. "I'm not looking at that being the last at all."

Cox and her fellow senior Tar Heels are hoping that the third-ranked squad can finish its season in the top four because those four teams will win coveted home-field advantage in November when the NCAA championships begin.

The Tar Heels defeated fourth-ranked Wake Forest 4-3 in overtime Tuesday but still face big challenges ahead. Besides Michigan, the team will play Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., on Sunday.

UNC travels to top-ranked Maryland on Oct. 22 and faces No. 2 Old Dominion on Oct. 28. ODU defeated the Tar Heels 1-0 on Sept. 16 at Henry Stadium.

"We have to perform well in our last five games in order to secure (a home bid)," Shelton said. "But certainly, things are on track."

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