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The Daily Tar Heel

Shelton, Field Hockey Wary of Golden Flashes

Today the North Carolina field hockey team will get its first look at Kent State, its opponent Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The team doesn't know a whole lot about Kent State.

"There was a massacre there in the seventies," forward Holly Huff offered.

Sweeper Abby Martin, midfielder Meredith Keller and back Stephanie Fuller jumped on the Internet after the selections had been announced but didn't find anything but, as Martin said, that "they have a few foreigners that are pretty decent and score a lot of goals."

But other than that and statistics, they won't have the first clue as to how to prepare for Kent State (19-3) until UNC coach Karen Shelton receives the two videotaped games she requested.

The Tar Heels (17-3) earned the second seed in the 16-team tournament and host a four-team bracket Saturday. UNC plays the Golden Flashes at 11 a.m.

"I think obviously, we're delighted to be the No. 2 seed and to have the opportunity to host these games," Shelton said. "I'm very concerned about Kent State. I think they're a very good team, a very dangerous team, and I pointed that out to our girls."

At Wednesday's practice, Shelton told her team the pieces of information she had. She told them about Arlette van Cleef and Els Brouwer, who are third and fifth in the nation in goals.

Van Cleef has scored 23 goals this season and is tied with UNC's Kristen McCann for third place. But the Tar Heels don't have a player who has scored as much as Brouwer (21 goals) beyond McCann.

"My guess would be that we need to attack on the outside, avoid the middle of the field and play the two superstars that we have like (Old Dominion's) Marina DiGiacomo in that we don't dive in and that we're patient in our low defense," Shelton said.

Brouwer and van Cleef are from the Netherlands and play a different style than the Tar Heels are used to. The only other significant international player UNC has faced this year is DiGiacomo, an Argentine player who leads the nation with 52 goals.

"I do think that probably of all the first-round matchups, certainly of the top four seeds, we have the toughest," Shelton said. "I don't think that that was necessarily intentional."

Kent State went 10-0 in the MAC, but Shelton said that wasn't as strong a conference from top to bottom as the ACC.

The Golden Flashes have won games by 11-0, 10-0 and 9-1 margins. These blowouts have helped push Kent State's margin of victory to more than three and a half goals.

In contrast, the Tar Heels' schedule has been filled with tight matches against top-10 schools.

Although the Tar Heels have played a much tougher schedule than Kent State and won most of those games, UNC is being very careful not to overlook the Golden Flashes.

"I think at this time of the year anything can happen," Huff said. "Even though we don't know a lot about them, and we're ranked higher than them, we take them very seriously."

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