UNC's rematch with Michigan was close throughout the first half. Senior Malin Evert scored first in nearly the eighth minute off a penalty corner. About twelve minutes later, Hoffman joined in and doubled her team’s lead.
Michigan responded in the 27th minute, when Kathryn Peterson shot the ball from the top of the circle and past the goalkeeper. With that goal, the Wolverines were able to cut the UNC lead. The score remained 2-1 until the 35th minute when Hoffman scored her second goal of the game off a penalty corner.
Hoffman has shown a tendency to give her team the lead in critical moments against Michigan. The last time these two teams played against each other in the NCAA Tournament was in 2015, when Hoffman was a first-year.
In that contest, Hoffman scored the team’s only goal of the game. Just like this year, her goal gave North Carolina the edge and sent them to the NCAA Final Four.
"(It's a) huge momentum shift, it relieves some pressure,” head coach Karen Shelton said. "If it would have been a one-goal game going into the second half, as well as they played, it might have been different. So it was good to get that two goal cushion."
In the second half, Michigan kept the pressure on North Carolina, but UNC was able to extend the two-goal lead Hoffman gave it before the break and hold off the Wolverines.
In the 56th minute, junior Feline Guenther sent the ball past the goalkeeper off the rebound of her first shot. The goal put the Tar Heels up, 4-1.
“I was very lucky because the first shot went right into her (goalkeeper)," Guenther said, “With the second one it was kind of sneaky. It went right over her stick. I got it back and tipped it with my stick a little.”
The Wolverines would not go down without a fight. In the 59th minute, Sofia Southam cut the UNC lead to 4-2. With five minutes remaining and down two goals, the Wolverines pulled their goalkeeper to push for the equalizing goals.
Yet with one minute remaining in the game and no goalie in the net for Michigan, UNC junior Megan DuVernois scored off the break and capped off the victory, 5-2.
The win was UNC's second of the season over Michigan, which is the No. 8 team in the country. In two games, UNC has outscored the Wolverines, 10-3. It shows just how dominant this North Carolina team has been. But the Tar Heels aren't satisfied yet. They've been denied a national championship nine straight seasons, and with two games left to play, they have their eyes on the ultimate goal.
"We are not finished yet," Hoffman said. "I think that is the best part about this team is we still haven't reached our potential.”
@DTHSports | firstname.lastname@example.org