The No. 5 North Carolina field hockey team finished its regular season with a 9-1 win against Appalachian State.
Offensive control was the story in the first half for UNC. The Tar Heels (15-4, 4-3 ACC) forced the action throughout, tallying 34 shots while Appalachian State (1-14) struggled to find opportunities and registered two shots.
The Mountaineers weathered the onslaught well until the 17th minute. The Tar Heels broke through for the first goal of the afternoon when sophomore Eva van’t Hoog displayed impressive dribbling skills on the way to her seventh goal of the year. Redshirt first-year Catherine Hayden and sophomore Ashley Hoffman would both add a goal each, giving the Tar Heels a 3-0 halftime lead.
UNC stormed out of the gates in the second half, adding two goals to its lead in the first five minutes. Senior Lauren Moyer scored her 16th goal of the season on a breakaway for the Tar Heels. A minute later, Hayden notched her second goal of the game and her fourth of the year.
With a more than comfortable lead, the Tar Heels kept their foot on the gas. Moyer’s second goal of the game pushed the score to 6-0 in the 47th minute. Appalachian State scored in the 49th minute, only to be answered by three Tar Heel goals in the last 20 minutes of the game.
UNC’s nine goals were its most since 2013. The team also earned season highs in shots (34), assists (6) and points (24).
Who stood out?
The entire offense clicked for UNC, with 11 players tallying at least one shot and seven earning goals.
Eva van’t Hoog and Catherine Hayden provided a spark for the Tar Heels. Van’t Hoog remained active offensively all game, scoring a goal while overwhelming the defense with five shots. The sophomore’s goal gave her seven for the year, which is good for third on the team.
Not known for her scoring, Hayden doubled her season total of two goals, scoring in the 26th and 38th minutes. Hayden has been serviceable off the bench for the Tar Heels, but this was her most effective game of the year.
When was it decided?
With time winding down in the first half, the Tar Heels owned a 2-0 lead and a striking advantage in offensive opportunities. Appalachian State had done well to limit the goal output, although its offense couldn't back up the defensive stance.
But with 15 seconds to play in the half, Hoffman scored the game’s third goal on a penalty corner. The goal dashed defensive momentum for the Mountaineers, who would give up six goals in the second half after a relatively strong first.
Why does it matter?
The win was the Tar Heels’ third straight to end the regular season. The momentum from the three dominating performances can serve UNC well as they prepare for ACC and NCAA Tournament play.
The Tar Heels played this game just a day after defeating Old Dominion. UNC’s experience in playing two games in two days could benefit the team as they go into tournament play, particularly the conference tournament which could force them to play three straight days.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Winston-Salem Thursday to take on Louisville in the first round of the ACC Tournament. The contest is the opening game of the tournament and begins at 11 a.m.
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