In a dramatic 2-1 win that featured a late comeback in the fourth period, the No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team (2-0) defeated the No. 8 Iowa Hawkeyes (1-1) in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Sunday.
The ACC-Big Ten Challenge game was highly contested throughout the first 30 minutes as the Tar Heels and Hawkeyes were deadlocked, 0-0. Both teams each managed four shots, but no team seemed poised to break the tie.
With just over eight minutes played in the third period, Iowa scored to take the 1-0 advantage. North Carolina found itself still down, 1-0, heading into the final five minutes of play.
With 4:35 left in the game, senior Catherine Hayden scored the first goal for UNC on a corner tip in the front off of a delivery by senior Yentl Leemans to even the game, 1-1.
Senior Marissa Creatore scored the deciding goal with 2:24 remaining in the game on another corner tip in the front, giving Leemans her second assist of the afternoon. The Tar Heels took a 2-1 lead and managed to hold it for the final minutes of the game.
Who stood out?
There were plenty of notable performances to go along with Hayden, Creatore and Leemans.
Junior goalkeeper Amanda Hendry faced seven shots in her 55 minutes of play, saved two of them and conceded only one goal.
Despite not scoring in the game, sophomore Erin Matson totaled five shots, four of which were on goal.
Head coach Karen Shelton said it wasn’t the performance of just one individual, but the team as a whole that won the game for the Tar Heels.
“I couldn’t pinpoint one player, I think we needed the whole team,” Shelton said. “Our defense was solid, we only gave up one goal. We were solid, our press work has been good, consistently good, so that’s a positive.”
When was it decided?
UNC went down to the wire to complete the comeback against the Hawkeyes.
With 4:35 left in the game, North Carolina began to power through Iowa to secure the win. Leemans was able to carve up the Hawkeye defense to find her open teammates and help clinch the win for UNC.
Why does it matter?
After a perfect 23-0 season, the expectations were high for the field hockey team heading into this top-10 matchup. With a young core of six sophomores, seven true first-years and two redshirt first-years, the roster has a different composition from last year's championship squad.
“We’re not the same team as last year, so the expectation is that we’re going to become the best team that we can be," Shelton said. “All we want to do is keep learning and improving as a group.”
But even with the new faces, the goal is still the same.
“Ultimately I think a program like ours we’re always building toward the NCAA tournament, so when a push comes to shove, we want to be ready in November,” Shelton said. “So, that’s what it’s all about growing, learning, applying different things and making improvements.”
Where do they play next?
North Carolina will look to continue its strong form as it hosts Princeton on Friday, Sept. 6, at 5 p.m.
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