An undefeated year that ends with a national championship is the season that every team dreams of having. For the North Carolina field hockey team, that dream became a reality in 2018.
The Tar Heels went 23-0 overall and 6-0 in conference play last season, defeating Maryland 2-0 in the NCAA title game to capture their seventh national championship.
Early season challenges
UNC opened the season with a pair of tough opponents, hosting Michigan and Iowa in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Both visiting teams would go on to finish the season ranked in the top 25, and Iowa tested UNC unlike any other team all season. The Tar Heels narrowly escaped that game, winning 2-1 thanks to a late goal by senior Ashley Hoffman in the only overtime win of the season.
After recording eight shutouts in the regular season, North Carolina went into the ACC Tournament riding a 17-game winning streak. UNC had scored 76 goals and conceded just 10 in the 17 games prior to the tournament, making the Tar Heels the clear favorite to retain the ACC crown.
After earning a bye into the semifinals, UNC faced off against Virginia, a team that would later end the year ranked No. 12 in the country. The Tar Heels were able to secure a spot in the ACC Championship after defeating the Cavaliers, 5-1.
Against Virginia, North Carolina scored three goals in the first 12 minutes of play with first-year Erin Matson scoring two goals and assisting on another that afternoon.
In the final game of the tournament, the Tar Heels were able to dominate Wake Forest, 7-2, en route to the program’s 21st ACC Championship. The title expanded North Carolina's ACC championship lead over second-place Maryland by more than double. Maryland moved to the Big Ten conference in 2014.
Despite not scoring or assisting in either game, senior Ashley Hoffman, the captain of the team, was named MVP of the tournament for the second year in a row based on her remarkable passing abilities and defensive talents.