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The Daily Tar Heel

Field Hockey opens regular season with 5-1 drubbing of No. 5 Michigan

Ashley Hoffman versus Davidson

Center back Ashley Hoffman (13) rears back for a shot against Davidson on Tuesday night in Durham.

For the fifth season in a row, the second-ranked North Carolina field hockey team (1-0) opened its season against No. 5 Michigan (0-1) in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

In the first game played in UNC’s brand-new field hockey stadium, the Tar Heels came out on top, 5-1.

What happened?

The first few minutes were highly contested and both sides were anxious to get the first goal of the season. In the fourth minute, Michigan struck first on a goal from sophomore Halle O'Neill.

Two minutes later, the Tar Heels answered with a goal of their own off a corner. Senior Ashley Hoffman tied it up with assists coming from first-year Erin Matson and junior Yentl Leemans.

After the equalizer, play slowed down as the players settled into the rhythm of the game. The Tar Heels continued to rack up shots, though, outshooting the Wolverines eight to four with fifteen minutes still remaining in the half.

As the first half continued, UNC started to control more and more of the possession. The Tar Heels had numerous opportunities but were unable to put anything in the back of the net. With 6:06 left to play, UNC was awarded a penalty stroke, which junior Megan DuVernois converted to make the score 2-1 Tar Heels.

With four minutes left to go, things got a little chippy with two green cards and one yellow card issued within a matter of a minute, giving UNC a one-player advantage for the rest of the half. The Tar Heels were unable to take advantage of the mental miscue, but they took the 2-1 lead into the half.

North Carolina continued to have opportunities early in the second half. Seven minutes and five seconds in, Matson scored her first-career goal off the assist from senior Eva van’t Hoog to make the score 3-1 UNC.

Two minutes later, senior Malin Evert notched her first goal of the season to add to the Tar Heel lead.

With 13 minutes left to play, the Tar Heels added another goal to make the score 5-1, which is where the score would stand for the final horn.

Who stood out?

In her first career game, Matson was a standout. In the first half, she led all Tar Heels with four shots, two of which were on goal. She also assisted UNC’s first goal of the game and was one of the main attackers on nearly every offensive opportunity.

The second half was no different for Matson. Seven minutes into the half, she scored her first-career goal off the assist from van’t Hoog.

With 13 minutes left to play, Matson recorded another assist on the Hoffman goal off a corner to make the score, 5-1. In total, she finished with one goal, two assists and five shots to round out her Tar Heel debut.

When was it decided?

Coming out of halftime it seemed the game would be close until the very end, but then the Tar Heels got hot. In the 42nd minute Matson scored to make the score, 3-1, and exactly two minutes later Evert added another one to increase the Tar Heel lead to three.

With 13 minutes to play, Hoffman added another goal to give UNC the 5-1 lead, making a Michigan comeback seem improbable.

Why does it matter?

This game marked the first contest played in Carolina Field Hockey Stadium, the team’s new home that features 900 seats and an LED scoreboard, among other features. Winning a game that marked the first of the season as well as the inaugural match played in the new stadium should serve as a boost for this year’s squad.

Where do they play next?

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The Tar Heels continue play in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge tomorrow as they face off against the Iowa Hawkeyes at 2 p.m.

@esingletary4

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com