The No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team closed out its weekend road trip with a dominant 3-1 win at Pennsylvania (0-2) on Sunday afternoon.
The Tar Heels (3-1) had a flurry of chances and penalty corners in the game’s opening minutes before Meredith Sholder scored 18 minutes in, giving UNC a lead it would not relinquish.
Just 21 seconds after Sholder’s goal, Marissa Creatore doubled the Tar Heels lead, scoring after a failed clearance by the Quakers.
Four minutes before the half, UNC added to its lead again, this time from a rebound goal by Megan DuVernois. DuVernois’ goal gave UNC a 3-0 lead going into the halftime break.
Along with its first half offensive burst, UNC was stifling defensively and controlled possession, holding Penn without a shot until Alexa Hoover’s attempt 47 minutes into the game. Minutes later, the Quakers finally managed to score thanks to a deflection goal by Rachel Huang off of a penalty corner. UNC head coach Karen Shelton was encouraged by the Tar Heels’ dominant first half, but said the second half left room for improvement.
“We just want to be more consistent,” Shelton said. “We want to put two halves back to back. I think we did it on Friday and we didn’t do it (today).”
The Quakers threatened a few more times in the game’s waning moments, but the Tar Heels’ defense held strong, blocking Penn’s last two attempts and closing out a solid 3-1 road victory.
Who stood out?
Creatore had a hand in every Tar Heel goal, scoring the eventual game-winner and tallying two assists as well. The sophomore forward is tied for the team lead in goals with two.
“(Last year), I was kind of getting used to the DI level,” Creatore said. “But I think this year I have a lot more confidence than I did last year.”
Shelton also pointed to the first-year Sholder’s emergence. Sholder scored her first career goal in Friday’s win over No. 8 Princeton and broke the deadlock for the Tar Heels on Sunday.
When was it decided?
North Carolina’s two goals in quick succession proved to be enough to secure a victory for the Tar Heels. DeVernois’ goal moments before the break made a solid lead seemingly insurmountable, especially considering UNC’s smothering defense.
Why does it matter?
This was a complete victory for the Tar Heels, as they controlled possession from the beginning and outshot Penn 16-4.
After dropping their season-opener against No.11 Michigan, UNC has righted the ship and reeled off three consecutive wins with conference play upcoming.
Shelton said she’s encouraged by recent results, but the Tar Heels will need to be more consistent if they hope to win the ACC.
“We’re the best league in the country,” Shelton said, “you’ve gotta be ready whenever you’re playing an ACC team.”
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels will open ACC play at No.15 Wake Forest on Friday night at 6 p.m.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.