After grinding all season long to compile a 15-2 record, the No. 3 North Carolina field hockey team finally began its postseason slate on Thursday with an ACC Championship match against the No. 9 Louisville Cardinals.
And in the quarterfinals in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Tar Heels came out strong, seizing a 2–1 victory as they vie for their first ACC title since 2012.
In the teams' previous meeting, North Carolina dismantled Louisville to the tune of a 5-0 win at Francis E. Henry Stadium. But Thursday’s match was a different story.
Possession alternated often in the first few minutes of the game, and each team saw its fair share of scoring chances. Stellar defensive efforts from the Tar Heels' defense stymied the Cardinals' attack.
In the 15th minute of play, the stalemate was broken. Courtesy of forward Nina Notman’s penalty stroke, North Carolina garnered a 1-0 advantage.
UNC captain Emily Wold followed Notman by finding the back of the cage on a rebound less than a minute later to push the Tar Heels' lead to 2-0.
The remainder of the opening half saw both teams trade chances to no avail, allowing North Carolina to keep its two-goal lead into halftime.
After intermission, UNC came out aggressive. The Tar Heels dominated possession in Cardinals' territory, leading to a Louisville timeout.
Following the stoppage of play, the Cardinals found some steam. A series of opportunities led to a second-chance goal off a penalty corner in the 63rd minute to make the score 2-1.