With the ACC regular-season title on the line, the top-ranked North Carolina field hockey team (15-0, 6-0 ACC) defeated No. 13 Boston College (10-6, 3-2 ACC) 3-2 on Friday evening. The Tar Heels scored all of their three goals in the fourth quarter in a big comeback win to stay undefeated.
The Eagles gave the Tar Heels one of their toughest matches of the season.
The first period started slow. In a back and forth game, the period ended in a 0-0 draw. The best chances came off penalty corner shots — three rewarded to BC and one to UNC.
The second period was quiet for both teams with one shot each for the period. For just the second time this season, UNC went to the half scoreless.
The third period showed more promise. After Eagles first-year Margo Carlin and junior Jaime Natale took shots early, UNC saw opportunities. The first good look came seven minutes into the period with a penalty corner shot. UNC sophomore Abby Pitcairn hit in the ball, but a quick shot by senior Yentl Leemans was blocked. UNC shot three more times during the possession without a goal.
Boston College broke the ice with an unassisted rocket from first-year Charlotte Von Huelsen to take the lead 1-0. UNC went into the fourth period trailing and looking to fight back.
The Tar Heels opened the fourth dominantly with two quick goals. Senior Feline Guenther’s deflection off the post was tapped in by sophomore Riley Fulmer, her fifth goal of the season. A foul on Catherine Hayden led to a UNC penalty stroke, giving UNC the chance to take the lead. With the crowd chanting, senior Megan Duvernois snuck past the BC goaltender and knocked it in. She is three for three on penalty strokes this season.
The Eagles were able to tie things up with four minutes left to play when junior Elizabeth Warner scored off a penalty shot.
Just under three minutes, UNC was awarded another penalty corner shot. Leemans was able to notch her third goal of the season after getting a great pass from first-year Romea Riccardo, giving the Tar Heels a 3-2 lead.
With just a minute left, BC was in the circle pushing for a last minute tie. A strong defensive push shut down the Eagles who were fighting until the final buzzer.
Who stood out?
With some veteran players out, other Tar Heels had to step up.
Star forward and UNC's leading point scorer, sophomore Erin Matson, was out against Boston College and will be absent the next two games as she helps the U.S. National Team in a two-game Olympic Qualifier on Nov. 1 and 2 in India. Fulmer got her first career start in Matson’s place and put up UNC’s first goal of the night.
Senior goaltender Alex Halpin got her first start of the season due to junior Amanda Hendry sitting out under concussion protocol after taking a knee to the head at the Liberty game. She made three save in her first 60 minute game.
Leemans, who sat out of practice most of the week with a bad toe injury, scored the game winner.
When was it decided?
This game was all about the fourth period and overcoming the deficit. Leemans sealed the UNC win for the team.
Why does it matter?
UNC was able to clinch the top spot in the ACC with this victory, giving the team an advantage in the upcoming tournament, set for Nov. 7, 8 and 10 in Newton, Mass.
"I'm incredibly proud of the Tar Heels for coming away with a victory tonight,” head coach Karen Shelton said. “To earn the top seed in the ACC Tournament was huge because you get a bye, so that gives you a day of rest while the other teams are playing. We really wanted this one badly.”
When do they play next?
UNC’s final two games of the regular season are at home. The Tar Heels’ next challenge will be Sunday, Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. against Old Dominion.
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