The No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team (19-0, 6-0 acc) defeated Boston College (13-7, 4-2 ACC) 3-1 on Sunday to preserve a perfect season and capture the team's third ACC title in a row.
The Tar Heels took the lead in the 12th minute off of a goal from Marrisa Creatore. The senior forward redirected a ball sent by sophomore Erin Matson past the goalkeeper and into the cage.
Boston College evened up the score 30 minutes later. Junior forward Jaime Natale got herself wide open right in front of the cage. She received a great pass from junior Elizabeth Warner and hit a one-timer for the goal.
The game remained tied until a fourth-quarter goal from senior midfielder Yentl Leemans, which gave UNC the lead once again. North Carolina took advantage after a Boston College yellow card gave the team an extra attacker. It would score a goal during that time span. During a penalty corner, Matson delivered a terrific behind-the-back pass to set Leemans up with a golden opportunity that she calmly converted.
The Tar Heels would extend their lead to two when Creatore got her second goal of the game. She stole the ball from a Boston College player and knocked it into the back corner of the cage to seal the win.
The Eagles almost responded with a quick goal on a corner, but the score was immediately waived off by the referee because the ball sailed too high.
UNC held on the rest of the way to seal the victory.
Who stood out?
The seniors came up huge for the Tar Heels, masking the most out of their final ACC Championship game.
The ones that had the biggest impact were Creatore and Leemans. Creatore got two of the three UNC goals, including the one that put the game out of reach.
Leemans also had a key goal for her team. She scored the game-winning goal, a feat she also accomplished during North Carolina’s 3-2 win against the Eagles on Oct. 25.
When was it decided?
The ten-minute North Carolina player advantage proved to be a big turning point in the game. The Tar Heels cashed in with a game-deciding goal, taking away any momentum that Boston College had and shifted it back to their side.
From there, another goal was icing on the cake for UNC and helped continue the nation's longest winning streak.
Why does it matter?
Coming off a hard-fought battle in the two teams' regular season matchup, Sunday’s championship game was expected to be close.
UNC had to play the Eagles at their home stadium that was filled to capacity. They also had to deal with the frigid weather in Newton, Pennsylvania. However, the Tar Heels did not let the pressure get to them.
Appearing in their fifth straight conference championship, their experience clearly showed competing against a team vying for its first ever ACC title.
The Tar Heels' 3-1 victory earned them their 22nd conference title in program history.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels have locked in a bid for the NCAA tournament, and now await the results of the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday at 10 p.m. They will almost assuredly be the No. 1 overall seed, and will look to complete a second straight perfect season and win back-to-back national championships.
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