With the conclusion of a perfect 2019 regular season, the North Carolina field hockey team has turned to winning off the field.
The ACC announced its annual field hockey awards on Wednesday, and five Tar Heels were named to either first or second-team All-ACC. Sophomore Erin Matson and senior Yentl Leemans earned first-team honors, while redshirt senior Marissa Creatore, redshirt junior Amanda Hendry and redshirt senior Catherine Hayden were recognized as second-team players.
Along with being named first-team All-ACC, Matson won the award for ACC Offensive Player of the Year, and Leemans was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year.
In the 14 games she has played for the Tar Heels this year, Matson has racked up 22 goals and 13 assists. Despite leading North Carolina in goals as a first-year last season, Matson has become even more of a focal point of UNC's offense this season after the departure of forward Ashley Hoffman. Hoffman tied Hayden for second-most goals on last year's squad at 16.
Leemans has been a spark plug for the team all over the field. When the midfielder wasn't running ahead to score three goals and distribute 13 assists this season, she was dropping back to contribute to a defense that led the ACC in fewest goals allowed per game this year at one. After Julia Young in 2016 and Hoffman the following two years, Leemans' DPOY win marks the fourth consecutive year that a Tar Heel has won the award.
Creatore, a Chapel Hill native, has shown leaps and bounds of improvement in her career at UNC. The forward, who redshirted in 2015 and came off the bench as a reserve in 2016, has scored a career-high 12 goals this season, four of which were game-winners.
For a North Carolina team that has outscored its opponents 64-15, Hendry has been the rock of the defensive unit. The team's goalkeeper finished the regular season with 10 multi-save games and a goals allowed average of 1.11 for the year. The redshirt junior saved 37 shots in 15 games for a 0.725 save percentage.
Rounding out the group is Hayden, a starter for UNC in all 17 games this year. The redshirt senior has only scored in seven games this season, but has been explosive in those instances. Hayden recorded multiple goals in four of the seven games she scored in, to bring her total for the year to 13.
The Tar Heels wrapped up their perfect 17-0 regular season with a 3-2 overtime win against Saint Joseph's on Sunday, the team's 40th straight win dating back to the start of last season. With the program notching several conference awards and riding the high of another undefeated regular season, the Tar Heels will certainly be the favorite to win their first game of the 2019 ACC Tournament on Friday.
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