The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 28th

No. 5 UNC field hockey defeats No. 1 Duke 3-2 to advance to ACC Tournament finals

The No. 5 North Carolina field hockey team defeated No. 1 Duke 3-2 to advance to the finals of the ACC Tournament.

What happened?

Coming off of a 3-0 win over UNC in the ACC regular-season finale, Duke seemed to be on pace for more of the same, scoring just over a minute into the matchup. However, it took less than two minutes for the Tar Heels to find what had eluded them less than two weeks ago, equalizing the game off of a goal by Ashley Hoffman.

In the second half, Duke got started early again, pulling ahead 2-1 one minute into the half. And again, Hoffman found an answer. Coming off of a penalty stroke, Hoffman hurled one into the back of the net to tie the game at two. Less than 5 minutes later, Emma Bozek sent a pass to Malin Evert, who netted the go-ahead goal for the Tar Heels.

Down 3-2 with five minutes to go, Duke pulled its goalie. And a minute later, Evert was given a yellow card, forcing her out of the game. Effectively down by two players, the Tar Heels were faced with a furious Duke scramble as the clock dwindled down.

But North Carolina withheld the Blue Devils’ final push, advancing to the ACC final with the one goal victory.

Who stood out?

For every attack that Duke’s team could manage, Ashley Hoffman seemed to be able to counter on the other end. Her goal at 1:59 shut down the early momentum of Duke, who had scored just 1:05 into the game. Her second goal was just as timely, pulling the Tar Heels even with the Blue Devils with just over ten minutes remaining in the game.

When was it decided?

With four minutes left, the Tar Heels had found themselves outmanned after Duke pulled its goalie, and they lost a player to penalties. But North Carolina was not outmatched. UNC withstood two shots off of three penalty corners, escaping trouble in the closing minutes. It wasn’t until the final minute that the Tar Heels blocked Duke’s last shot to secure the victory.

Why does it matter?

The ACC is the toughest conference in the nation, with ACC teams making up five of the top 10 teams. So when Duke burned past UNC 3-0 in the Tar Heels’ regular-season ACC finale, the one loss knocked North Carolina to the middle of the pack in the ACC rankings. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils took over the No. 1 seed in the ACC — and ultimately No. 1 in the nation.

UNC was looking for more than revenge from the regular season loss, more than a rivalry win and more than an upset over the nation’s top team Friday afternoon. The Tar Heels were looking to earn a spot in the ACC title game.

And with the 3-2 victory, North Carolina got all of the above.

When do they play next?

UNC will take on the winner of Wake Forest and Virginia in Winston-Salem on Sunday. The 1 p.m. game will decide the ACC Tournament champion.


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