After giving up an early goal in the first quarter, the No. 1 UNC field hockey team (12-0, 4-0 ACC) used a hat trick by sophomore forward Erin Matson to propel itself to a 4-1 win over No. 21 Albany University (9-5, 1-1 AEC) on Sunday in the Tar Heels' second match of a two-game road series.
The first goal of the game came seven minutes into the first quarter after Hanna Zarrilli gave the hosts an early 1-0 lead. Albany created the majority of the chances in the first period, outshooting the Tar Heels 4-1.
UNC head coach Karen Shelton said after the game that it took her team awhile to adjust to the intensity of the first period.
"I think that around the country, what you're seeing in the first quarter is that it's very fast and furious," Shelton said. "And I think we were caught off guard a little bit."
UNC was able to respond in a big way in the second period, scoring three unanswered goals. Erin Matson tied the game at 1-1 three minutes into the second period. Yentl Leemans played the ball to Matson off a penalty corner which Matson was able to fire past the Great Danes' keeper.
UNC took the lead with four minutes left to go in the half. This time it was Matson who provided the assist for Leemans to make it 2-1 to UNC. The two combined for a one-two off a UNC penalty corner for the goal.
Matson got her second of the afternoon just four minutes later. A shot by redshirt first-year Romea Riccardo was deflected into Matson's pass, who was able to tap the ball home to give UNC a 3-1 lead heading into the second half.
After a scoreless third period in which they outshot Albany 4-2, UNC were able to find the back of the net for a fourth time in the game. Matson collected the ball in Albany's half and was able to beat three defenders and slip the ball between the keepers’ legs.
Shelton was full of praise for Matson after her hat trick performance.
"She's the best scorer on the team but she's also the best passer. So, she's been able to make other people around her a little bit better," Shelton said. "But you know she scores, and that's a hot commodity, I can tell you that."
Who stood out?
Matson was involved with every goal UNC scored, earning a hat trick and providing an assist for the other goal. Her three goals in the contest increases her season total so far to 20 goals. Leemans also shone for the Tar Heels, providing a goal and an assist.
When was it decided?
After making it 2-1 and taking their first lead of the game in the 26th minute, the Tar Heels put the game to bed three minutes later after Matson's second goal of the contest gave UNC a two-goal lead.
Why does it matter?
With today's result, the Tar Heels pick up their 12th win of the season. The win marks their 35th in a row, tying the ACC record.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels head to Winston-Salem on Friday for a matchup with Wake Forest University at 6 p.m.
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