All signs pointed to an upset and an end to No. 1 North Carolina field hockey’s winning streak. UNC was facing No. 17 Liberty on just one day of rest, and was without its captain and co-leader in assists, Yentl Leemans. Even the overcast weather was ominous.
But a team effort from the Tar Heels pushed them to a 3-2 victory over the Flames in Chapel Hill on Sunday, and extended their winning streak to 37 games. The score may have been a little closer than expected, but head coach Karen Shelton was happy with the result.
“I’m pleased with the win,” Shelton said. “It’s a different kind of tactic that they used, we didn’t handle it quite as well as we could’ve. But going forward, if we see it again, we will be better prepared.”
Rather than pressing up, Liberty sat back and played conservatively for most of the game, attempting to frustrate the UNC offense. But according to Shelton, this tactic actually served to help the Tar Heels in the absence of Leemans.
First-year Karlijn Goes played in lieu of Leemans, who was out with a foot injury. There was no question that missing Leemans was a huge loss for this team, but Goes and her teammates performed well in her absence, in part due to the Flames' defensive strategy.