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Saturday April 1st

Second-half outburst gives UNC field hockey a 3-1 win over Old Dominion

<p>Forward Gab Major (27) fights for the ball against ODU on Oct. 1 at Jack Katz Stadium in Durham.</p>
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Forward Gab Major (27) fights for the ball against ODU on Oct. 1 at Jack Katz Stadium in Durham.

DURHAM — It was only a matter of time.

Early in the second half of the No. 5 North Carolina field hockey team’s 3-1 win over Old Dominion on Sunday, UNC still had not scored. Eight first half shots and six penalty corners did not produce a goal.

The Tar Heels (10-2, 2-1 ACC) knew they had to get aggressive to finally convert the chances they were creating.

“I thought we were conservative in the first half offensively,” head coach Karen Shelton said. “I felt like we were getting it in to their attacking zone and then passing it back around. We tried to make that change in the second half.”

The message got through to senior forward Gab Major. When Major took UNC’s seventh penalty corner of the game, she knew she would need to be aggressive.

“That’s something we talked about at halftime,” Major said. “Just, like, taking more risks and getting the ball in the circle.”

In a play designed for Major, she put the ball in play to junior Ashley Hoffman, who was waiting eagerly at the top of the shooting circle. Hoffman sent the ball right back to Major, who was undefended on the left side of the goal. Major took one touch and sent it gliding by the goalkeeper. 

1-0, Tar Heels.

“I was excited,” Major said of breaking the tie. “I actually had a great ball for me, and it was just up to me to tap it in.”

The goal was Major’s sixth of the season. The team's sole senior also registered her 10th assist of the season — a team high.

“She’s a senior captain," Shelton said. "She really makes things happen for us. She provides a maturity up there, and I think she’s having a great year.”

Three minutes after the first goal, North Carolina lined up for another corner. Major played the ball to first-year back Cassie Sumfest, who trapped it and laid it off for Hoffman. Hoffman cocked back and blasted a shot by the ODU (4-7) goalie from 15 yards out to put the Tar Heels up 2-0.

North Carolina took advantage of yet another penalty corner minutes later. Sophomore Catherine Hayden corralled a rebound after a save from ODU’s goalie and finished it to extend UNC’s lead.

Hoffman said execution on penalty corners was the difference for North Carolina in the second half.

“I think we all just decided to take our individual accountability for the corner pieces, so we scored on three corners,” she said. “It was just everyone doing their job, no little mistakes, no losing focus.”

Despite conceding a goal in the last three minutes of the game, Shelton was encouraged by her team’s play. She knows they will need to continue that strong play heading into a matchup with No. 3 Virginia on Friday.

“I’m not disappointed, at all,” she said. “I would have preferred a shutout, but today we had a great win and it was a team effort.”


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