The North Carolina field hockey team took another step toward a second perfect season Friday.
In an NCAA Tournament first-round game at Shelton Stadium, the undefeated Tar Heels routed Stanford, 4-0, and advanced to Sunday’s second-round game against either Iowa.
Sophomore forward Erin Matson, who last week won her second ACC Offensive Player of the Year award, scored twice for UNC (20-0). Seniors Yentl Leemans and Feline Guenther also logged goals.
North Carolina, the top seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second year in row, came out aggressive with six shots in the first period. And Leemans, a midfielder and the 2019 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, opened the scoring with a goal off a penalty corner at the 6:40 mark.
Stanford (16-7) had four saves in the first period, but its defense wore down in the second period. After the Cardinal turned it over near their goal, the Tar Heels got off a quick shot that was deflected — but Guenther, a midfielder, was there to punch in the loose ball and give her team a two-goal cushion.
Minutes before halftime, Matson added an insurance goal of her own. The goal, which gave UNC a 3-0 lead, came after the sophomore was awarded a green card for a minor infraction and had to sit out two minutes of penalty time.
Stanford had two penalty corners in the second period — both in the waning seconds of the period — but converted neither.
In the second half, North Carolina kept up its steady defense and maintained a clean sheet even as Stanford logged another penalty corner and four of its six total shots over the third and fourth periods.
UNC took fewer shots, too, but still recorded a fourth goal to put an exclamation point on its win. This one, again, came from Matson, who tapped in a short, contested goal at the 56:38 mark.
Who stood out?
Matson, who missed three games earlier this season to compete with the U.S. National Team, added two more goals Friday. She’s up to 26 in 17 games now.
Guenther scored her fourth goal of the season and also assisted on Leemans’ opening goal. On defense, goalie Amanda Hendry had four saves and oversaw 55 scoreless minutes. Backup Alex Halpin played the last five minutes and got a save of her own to preserve a shutout.
When was it decided?
Leemans’ goal will go down as the technical game-winner, but UNC truly secured this one in the second period, when the team added two goals to its lead and held tight defensively.
Why does it matter?
UNC, the defending NCAA champion, added to its ACC-record win streak that now sits at 43.
The Tar Heels also shut down Corinne Zanolli, Stanford’s star attacker who entered Friday with an NCAA-best 33 goals. Zanolli had five shots and four on goal but no points to show for it.
Who do they play next?
UNC plays Iowa on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Shelton Stadium. The winner of that game will advance to a Nov. 22 semifinal in Winston-Salem.
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