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Monday March 20th

No. 6 UNC field hockey shuts out Virginia, advances to ACC Championship

<p>Junior midfielder Ashley Hoffman (13) rears back for a shot against Boston College on Sep. 16 in Durham.</p>
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Junior midfielder Ashley Hoffman (13) rears back for a shot against Boston College on Sep. 16 in Durham.

Sometimes, history really does repeat itself.

The No. 6 North Carolina field hockey team beat No. 4 Virginia, 4-0, for a second time this season as the Tar Heels advanced to the ACC Championship game on Sunday.

What happened?

UNC (15-4) used a hot start to get an early advantage against the struggling Cavaliers. For the first entirety of the first half, it was all about the Tar Heels.

UNC dominated possession over the ball, created effective scoring opportunities and locked down the second best scoring offense in the country. Virginia’s offense was unable to do anything productive for the majority of the half.

ACC Offensive Player of the Year Tara Vittese was seemingly frustrated all day long by an aggressive UNC backline, which happened to be led by the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in Ashley Hoffman.

“We worked together, we were solid in the back, we weathered long periods of sustained pressure, and our kids didn’t crack," head coach Karen Shelton said, "so I am incredibly proud of them."

The Tar Heels scored their first goal of the game off a rebound deflection from Eef Andriessen. Eight short minutes later, Malin Evert tied Hoffman with the most goals on the team by finishing her tenth goal of the season. This gave UNC a 2-0 halftime lead. 

Virginia came out extremely aggressive in the second half and ended the game with 19 shots, a season high for a UNC opponent. But UNC goalie Amanda Hendry was ready for the challenge. She made a career-high herself of 10 saves, and withstood the bombardment of 10 penalty corner attempts by the Cavaliers.

In the 49th minute, the Tar Heels widened the lead with Meredith Sholder’s score that went right across goalkeeper Carrera Lucas for the goal. Seven minutes later in the 56th minute, Catherine Hayden provided the exclamation point with a cross from the right side that ultimately entered the left post.

“Having a game like this is really important for us going forward,” Shelton said. “It was a team effort.”

Who stood out?

Collectively, the team gave an impressive performance. In two ACC Tournament games, UNC has scored seven goals, and each has come from a different player. But's Hendry performance in goal was the story of the game.

“I thought Amanda was brilliant,” Shelton said. “She is a young player and untested in tournament play, so to have her come out and have the big game that she did gives the rest of our kids confidence in front of her.”

When was it decided?

Following halftime, Virgina was doing whatever it could to find a way back into this game. But after Sholder’s goal 49th-minute goal, UNC never lost its momentum.

When do they play next?

UNC will be playing the hometown No. 10 Louisville Cardinals in the championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m.

"Louisville is on their home field," Shelton said, "but we’re just delighted to be in the final."


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