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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 1 UNC field hockey cruises without leading scorer

UNC back Nina Notman (10) protects the ball in the offensive zone.
UNC back Nina Notman (10) protects the ball in the offensive zone.

Instead, the team got two players to step up in an 8-1 blowout over Virginia Commonwealth University (2-10) that was clearly decided after the first half.

Craddock, a senior with 23 points on the year, also sat out for Friday’s 7-0 win over Longwood, but in her place, juniors Emma Bozek and Nina Notman picked up the slack.

Craddock, a 2014 preseason All-ACC selection, also missed six games during the 2013-14 season due to an injury.

Bozek scored once and tallied five assists Sunday, while Notman picked up her first career hat trick. Bozek and Notman had just 11 and 10 points, respectively, coming into the game.

“There is an emphasis in someone needing to step up with Charlotte out,” Bozek said. “It definitely was the result of good passing combinations with the whole team.”

Coach Karen Shelton said that while she had seen this type of play from Bozek and Notman during practice, she was glad to see it in a live game.

“We play with the team that we have,” Shelton said. “It wasn’t like there was any kind of direction: ‘Let’s step up because we don’t have Charlotte.’ It’s a matter of the players out there doing the best job that they possibly can.”

It took UNC nearly 13 minutes to score, but after that, the onslaught was on. Ball possession heavily favored UNC, and deft stick handling and pinpoint passing led to eight penalty corners, two of which directly led to goals.

Notman scored both of the penalty corner goals, which have been a point of emphasis for the team to earn.

“We were just so happy that we finally executed some corners,” Notman said. “In the past, we had some issues with that. We worked so hard on our corners.”

VCU constantly played on its heels, parrying what shots it could.

By the end of the first half, the Tar Heels held a commanding 7-0 lead, the first time they scored seven goals in a half since a 10-0 victory over Villanova in the team’s 2013-14 season. UNC featured a balanced attack with six goal scorers, whereas VCU didn’t even register a shot on goal until the second half.

“Charlotte was definitely missed on the field,” Notman said. “But I think we have enough players that can balance this out. All of us with our passing, it’s not one person that has to step up.”

As UNC took its foot off the gas pedal in the second half, several backup players gained experience with a half-court strategy.

“I felt we dominated the first half,” Shelton said. “Of course, we wanted to play some kids that don’t get as many minutes in the bigger games. Seven goals is plenty to score in any game. I was proud of our group.”

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