The No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team made its way up to New York and defeated No. 14 Syracuse 3-1 on a cold, rainy Saturday at J.S. Coyne Field.
The Tar Heels came out strong, scoring in the 12th minute of play off a counter attack started by Erin Matson after the clearance of a Syracuse penalty corner. The sophomore forward passed the ball to Marissa Creatore, who streaked along the Syracuse end line and passed across the middle to Catherine Hayden for an easy tap-in goal.
At the end of the first period North Carolina, held a 1-0 lead and a 4-1 shot advantage over the Orange.
The Tar Heels continued to produce offensively in the second period, scoring off one of their seven total penalty corners in the 21st minute. Matson put away the goal, her 17th of the season, off an assist from senior midfielder Yentl Leemans.
In a play similar to the Tar Heels’ first goal, Creatore finished a redirected, tap-in goal off a pass across the middle from Hayden in the 48th minute.
North Carolina’s offensive production toed the line of perfection in this game. The Tar Heels had seven total shots and all seven of them were put on target, testing the Syracuse goalkeeper.
While UNC’s high-powered offense no doubt played a significant role in the Tar Heel victory, head coach Karen Shelton credits the defense for its ability to contain Syracuse’s key offensive threats.
“I’m proud of our young backfield that’s growing and getting better every game. It’s a team effort, but those three anchor the back,” Shelton said. “Charlotte de Vries is fourth in the nation in scoring and we held her to two shots on goal today. She scored one of the two, but we did a nice job on her because she’s tough to stop.”
De Vries scored shortly after the Tar Heel’s third goal, but it proved too late for the Orange to mount a comeback.
Who stood out?
Matson, Creatore and Hayden continued to produce offensively for the Tar Heels in this game, just as they have done all season. The three attackers have combined for 38 of North Carolina’s 51 goals so far.
“I’m really pleased with the outcome,” Shelton said. “I’m proud of Catherine Hayden, Marissa Creatore and Erin Matson. The three of them combined for all three of our goals, and they were all beauties.”
When was it decided?
The Tar Heels went into halftime with a 2-0 lead, but the game wasn’t completely out of question until they put away their third goal in the second half. Even with a quick response from Syracuse, North Carolina was able to preserve a 3-1 lead to salt the game away.
Why does it matter?
This win is the Tar Heels’ 34th straight victory dating back to last season, and preserves their record at a perfect 11-0 overall and 4-0 in the conference. Still, Shelton said the team isn’t focused on the win streak, only looking forward to the next game.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels are tasked with a quick turnaround, as they face Albany on Sunday in New York to complete their only string of games on back-to-back days this season.
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