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The Daily Tar Heel

Successful senior class secures statement win for field hockey

Scoring celebration at Carolina Victory on Sunday Nov. 1
Scoring celebration at Carolina Victory on Sunday Nov. 1

With the first round of the ACC Championship days away, the No. 3 Tar Heels (15-2, 4-2 ACC) took care of business with a 5-1 victory over No. 19 Old Dominion (9-9, 2-3 Big East) on senior day at Francis E. Henry Stadium.

Despite falling behind early, UNC battled back behind first-half goals by sophomores Gab Major and Sam Night. And on a day celebrating the senior class, it was only fitting for a goal from senior Emily Wold to ice the contest.

For the team’s four graduating players — Rachel Black, Casey Di Nardo, Nina Notman and Wold — there were far more important things than the result.

“I’m just so impressed by this senior class and the leadership they’ve provided our team,” Coach Karen Shelton said.

The graduating class has been key to the success of the program the past four years. UNC has reached the Final Four in each season, winning 75 games over that stretch — including the 2012 ACC Championship and a share of the 2014 regular-season title.

Wold said the chemistry of the team starts with the senior class.

Black said assimilating younger players into the team culture — regardless of their class — has contributed to the Tar Heels’ success.

“It could be anyone who takes a winning shot,” Black said. “Whether it be a freshman or anyone on the team.”

And after stepping on their home field for their final regular season contest, all four players had mixed feelings about the day. Di Nardo said even her dad was emotional.

“It was bittersweet,” she said. “It’s really exciting because I love playing with these girls. But it was kind of sad because it was our last game here.”

But the moment the game ended, the seniors were focused on their next task.

“It’s great what all the girls do for you and recognize all the work you’ve put in ... ” Wold said. ”(But) we know there’s a lot more to come.”

On Thursday, UNC faces Louisville in the first round of the ACC Championship in Charlottesville, Virginia. Shortly after the conference championship ends, the NCAA Tournament begins.

“It’s the second season now,” Shelton said. “There’s no greater way to prepare for NCAA than the ACC Championship. Everybody is good at this point.”

All four of the graduating players agreed that while senior day might be over, each knows there is much left to do in their collegiate careers .

“It doesn’t feel like it’s over,” Notman said. “We’re all so excited about what’s to come in the next three weeks.”

@sjdoughton

sports@dailytarheel.com

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