Two current North Carolina field hockey players were chosen to join the U.S. Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup team, which will compete in London from July 21 to August 5.
On this national team rising senior Ashley Hoffman and first-year Erin Matson are joined by four Tar Heel alumni — Jackie Briggs, Lauren Moyer, Caitlin Van Sickle and Julia Young.
With 18 athletes on the team, UNC is represented by one-third of the roster.
“I think having a lot of Tar Heels on the U.S. team is pretty unique in a way because even though there are former players and current players we are still kind of like family," Matson said. “I think it shows that it’s been a strong program throughout the years and that coach Shelton is continuing the legacy.”
Although, Hoffman and Matson have competed with older girls in the past, this experience is special. While Hoffman is reunited with some of her former teammates, as a first-year, Matson’s experience will be different.
“I think it is amazing," Hoffman said. "Even talking to the older alum and through the transformation that Chapel Hill is going through right now it’s fun to reminisce with them about what they are missing out on, and then Erin I'm already really good friends with her so I think her transition onto the team will be so easy. It’s a lot of fun to play on a team that you have a similar connection with and you can talk about experiences. It makes it a lot more fun to play.”
Even though Hoffman and Matson have yet to play an official game together for UNC, the two have formed a strong relationship.
“Ashley is like a sister to me," Matson said. "And we have played field hockey together for a while now being on the U-21 team and now this team together there is a strong connection between us. I think it’s really exciting to carry that over into college now and in the fall, we are both very excited to get started with the fall season.”
In preparation for the 2018 Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup, both girls have been practicing all summer, which they believe will help them during the fall season.
Although Hoffman has had plenty of success in the three years she has been a part of the UNC squad, this season is special, with her being a senior.
Throughout her collegiate career, Hoffman has competed in three Field Hockey Final Fours. In each of those appearances the team was unable to win a national championship. Hoffman said her goal this season is to ultimately win the biggest event in the sport.
“I think with the personnel we have we should try to win every game,” Hoffman said.
After a summer filled with two-a-day practices, Hoffman and Matson along with the other members of the U.S. World Cup team, which is ranked No. 7 on the FIH Hero World Rankings, will begin their run on July 21st against No. 16 Ireland. The two teams will face off at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre's field at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
“It’s a new team so it is going to be exciting to see what we can do on such a large stage,” Hoffman said.
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