Defense seemed to be the calling card for the North Carolina women’s field hockey team on Saturday as they held Boston College to nine shots in an overtime win.
The No. 7 Tar Heels (5-2, 1-1 ACC) beat the No. 10 Eagles (5-2, 0-2 ACC) 2-1 in overtime in UNC’s first designated home game of the season at Williams Field in Durham, N.C.
With both teams losing their ACC opener, Saturday’s matchup had an increased importance for two top-ten squads with hopes of vying for an ACC championship.
North Carolina’s defense looked unbeatable for most of the day. Boston College, who averaged 18 shots per game coming into Saturday, was held to just nine in the game. BC struggled to to hold possession on offense, especially in the first half.
UNC had used a plethora of corners to create several shot opportunities. However, they were only able to find the back of the net twice despite having 13 more shots and nine more corners than the Eagles.
BC began to solve their first half offensive woes in the second half as the team got off eight shots, as opposed to just one shot in the opening half.
Their energized play led to an equalizing goal by junior midfielder Ymke Rose Gote with just under 10 minutes left in regulation, which ultimately sent the game into overtime.
In overtime, junior midfielder Ashley Hoffman had a midfield steal that led to a fastbreak and what appeared to be the game-winning goal. Ultimately, the goal was called off by referees moments later.
UNC earned another corner with just under seven minutes left in the first overtime period. Hoffman scored on the ensuing play on an assist from Eva van't Hoog, and this time the goal stood as North Carolina notched its first ACC win of the season.
Even though Hoffman’s shots were not falling early, she lead the team with seven shots and found the back of the net when it mattered most, scoring the game-winning goal.
Moreover, Hoffman, who plays in the center of the defense, harassed the Eagles’ attackers all afternoon, making it difficult for them to find room to shoot. Hoffman was instrumental in a much improved Tar Heel defense Saturday afternoon.
First-year midfielder Eva Smolenaars also stood out as she scored her first career goal just three minutes into the contest.
Despite a tight second half, UNC pulled out an important ACC win to turn around their start to conference play.
The Tar Heels will be back in action on Sunday playing at home against No. 13 James Madison.
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