This team, indeed, has been special. North Carolina scored 103 goals all season and allowed only 16. It gave up more than one goal only three times, and still won those games by a combined 11 goals.
The Tar Heels’ blistering start against Michigan foreshadowed how they would dominate other top-ranked teams throughout the season, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. UNC nearly stumbled in a 2-1 overtime win against Iowa.
North Carolina conceded an early goal, and trailed for most of the game. Yet a trend that would become familiar emerged: first-year Erin Matson and senior Ashley Hoffman were the heroes. Matson scored an equalizer in minute 62, and Hoffman closed out the win with a penalty goal in overtime.
"It has been kind of a perfect season so far"
The Tar Heels ran through the nation's top conference. Including the ACC Championship, North Carolina went 9-0 against their ACC foes and only conceded nine goals in those games. The ACC slate gave North Carolina a chance to cut its teeth against top competition and emerge as a title favorite.
Through the regular season, Matson emerged as one of the top players in the country.
Matson led UNC in goals scored, assists and total points. She joined a trio of Tar Heels who swept up the ACC awards. Matson was named ACC Freshman of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year, while Hoffman was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and head coach Karen Shelton was named ACC Coach of the Year.
UNC's dominance peaked in the ACC Championship, an event the top-seeded team had never before won since the conference's expansion. The Tar Heels bucked that trend, and defeated Wake Forest, 7-2, in the ACC title game. After the win, the emergent star reflected on UNC's regular season.
"I think it has been kind of a perfect season so far,” Matson said. “With our record and how we have been kind of continuing to grow as a team, we are not planning on stopping that anytime soon.”