The underclassmen on the No. 3 North Carolina field hockey team stepped up in a big way Friday night at Francis E. Henry Stadium in Chapel Hill.
Riding seven goals from its younger players, including six from first-years, UNC defeated Longwood 8-1 in a game where the Tar Heels (11-1, 3-1 ACC) outshot the Lancers (4-7, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) 29-9.
The scoring started early for UNC, as first-year Eva van’t Hoog found the back of the net nearly five minutes into the game off of an assist from forward Malin Evert. Fellow first-year Austyn Cuneo added a goal of her own off of a rebound from the goalkeeper about four minutes later to push the lead to 2-0.
Almost two minutes later, van’t Hoog added her second of three goals on the night with a lofted shot from the middle of the circle on an assist from sophomore Sam Night. Night got herself a goal in the 17th minute off of an assist from senior Emily Wold, and with more than 18 minutes remaining in the first half, the Tar Heels had already claimed a 4-0 lead.
But North Carolina did not lay off the gas before halftime. With just under four minutes to play in the first 35, UNC pushed the lead to 7-0 following goals from Evert, van't Hoog and Cuneo.
The second half saw more bench players play for UNC with the game safely in hand, which resulted in a more balanced attack and slower pace of play. North Carolina added its eighth and final goal of the night when junior Rachel Black stole the ball and hit a shot off of the back of the goalkeeper’s foot and into the net.
Longwood added a goal on a penalty corner in the 54th minute, but by then the game was already too far out of reach.
“It’s a nice reward for the kids who put in the hard work in practice to have the full 35 minutes to play.” — Coach Karen Shelton on playing most of the UNC bench for the whole second half.