To open up the season, the North Carolina field hockey team (1-1) traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, over the weekend to compete in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
On Saturday, they faced off against No. 11 Michigan (2-0), losing 3-2 in dramatic fashion. This was the second year in a row the Tar Heels have lost to the Wolverines in their opener. North Carolina avenged its loss to Michigan on Sunday, defeating the No. 17 Iowa Hawkeyes (0-2) by a score of 3-0.
SATURDAY VS. MICHIGAN
The Tar Heels got out to a hot start and dominated the first half. However, they were unable to get any of their shots in the goal. They recorded nine shots to Michigan’s one shot in the first half, yet nothing could find the back of the net.
After halftime, UNC came out of the gates slowly. Michigan took advantage, scoring just 11 seconds into the second half, making the score 1-0. Within the minute following the first goal, the Wolverines tacked on a second goal to create a 2-0 Tar Heel deficit.
Eight minutes later, the Wolverines struck again, increasing their lead to 3-0.
“We came out of halftime I think still half-asleep,” Tar Heel head coach Karen Shelton said. “I think the coaching staff bored our team to death and they came out sleepy. In the first 10 minutes they scored three goals and that woke us up.”
This left slightly more than 25 minutes in the game for North Carolina to try to mount a comeback.
With almost 15 minutes to play, North Carolina came roaring back. Sophomore Marissa Creatore scored off of assist from the lone-senior Gab Major in the 54th minute. Two minutes later, junior Ashley Hoffman scored the Tar Heels’ second goal, pulling them within one with four minutes left to play.
With less than one minute to play, UNC was awarded a corner. This seemed to be the play the Tar Heels needed to tie the game. However, Michigan challenged the call and won, effectively taking the prime opportunity away from the Tar Heels. Following the call, there were only 27 seconds left in the game — not nearly enough time for North Carolina to crawl into the game.
The game ended in a 3-2 Michigan victory.
Who stood out?
The UNC offense stood out, as they dominated Michigan’s defense. The Tar Heels recorded 23 shots with nine on goal, compared to Michigan’s five shots with four on goal. UNC also out-cornered Michigan 14-1.
Despite these numbers, though, the Tar Heels could just not win the statistical battle in the one column that matters the most: goals.
When was it decided?
Although it didn’t seem likely when Michigan went up 3-0 late in the second half, the game came down to its very last minute. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, their comeback push started too late.
SUNDAY VS. IOWA
On Sunday, the coaching staff decided to stick to the same starting lineup that played in the opener. In the first half, the storyline was much different for the Tar Heels.
After outshooting Michigan 9-1 on Saturday, UNC was outshot by Iowa 3-4 on Sunday. The first half came to a scoreless close for both teams.
Redshirt first-year goalkeeper Amanda Hendry made a key play just before the half came to a close, which Shelton said she believed propelled her team in the second half.
Following halftime, the Tar Heels continued their steady play. In the 54th minute, Hoffman took advantage of a penalty corner and put it in the back of the goal.
Seven minutes later, Major scored her first goal of the season off the assist from sophomore Catherine Hayden.
Only three minutes after the second goal was scored — in similar fashion to the first goal — junior Malin Evert scored off a corner, assisted by junior Eva van’t Hoog and Major.
The three goal Hawkeye deficit was too much for Iowa to overcome, resulting in North Carolina's first win of the season.
Who stood out?
Although many players had great games, Major was the standout. Major had an impressive second match, as she had something to do with all three goals scored. She scored the second goal of the match and assisted the other two goals.
So far this season, Major has scored or assisted on all goals.
“She’s providing leadership and is working very hard,” Shelton said. “She’s creating scoring opportunities and she’s solid up and out at the corner. It’s good to see and I’m proud of her.”
When was it decided?
The game was decided in the 63rd minute, following Evert’s goal. Her goal made put the Tar Heels up 3-0 with less than seven minutes to play. At the offensive tempo the Iowa team was playing, the chances were slim-to-none the Hawkeyes would have been able to mount a three-goal comeback in such little time.
Why does it matter?
The win against Iowa is important because the team avoided falling to 0-2 — something they haven’t done since 1992.
Where do they play next?
North Carolina will head to New Jersey to face off against No. 8 Princeton on Friday.
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