The North Carolina field hockey team has a high bar set for the 2020 season, coming off of winning back-to-back National Championships. Most of the games ended with the Tar Heels far in the lead, proving themselves to be the most dominant program in the country.
Amanda Hendry, Eva Smolenaars, and Erin Matson are all players to look out for. All three made the All-NCAA Tournament Team. Hendry, a senior goalkeeper, won ACC Defensive Player of the week twice, and was consistent with her play throughout the entire season with 56 saves. Smolenaars, a senior midfielder, had an assist and two goals in the National Championship against Princeton, proving she can step up to the challenge in big moments.
Junior forward Matson is definitely someone to keep an eye on coming off of one of the greatest seasons in UNC field hockey history. She was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, received the Honda Sport Award for field hockey national player of the year, led the nation in points and goals per game in 2019, and was selected to be on the 2020 preseason All-ACC team.
Along with these strong returning players, there will be some new faces on the field this fall. First-year midfielder Katie Dixon earned All-State honors twice.
Dorrit Eisenbeis, a first-year forward, was the recipient of both the 2020 Cary Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2019 Cary Academy Female Athlete of the Year Award, both impressive feats to accomplish before heading into college.
Kiersten Thomassey, a first-year midfielder, won the 2018 and 2019 Ohio State Championships in field hockey, and was named Central Ohio All-Star Preps Field Hockey Athlete of the Year in 2019. These first-years are joining a team with huge expectations, but with their backgrounds, they’re sure to fit right in with this champion team.
UNC won the ACC Coaches preseason favorite vote with six first place votes, and a total of 48 points. Virginia follows behind with 37 points, and then Boston College with 30. Despite the potential for more competition this year, UNC beat Virginia in the 2019 season, 5-0, and beat Boston College twice, once in the conference season, and second in the ACC Championship.
The 2020 season will start on Sunday, Sept. 20 and end on Oct. 30, beginning and ending with a game against Wake Forest. The conference schedule will be in a round-robin style, where each ACC team plays each other. The ACC Championship tournament will take place at Duke on Nov. 5, 6 and 8.
The Tar Heels will be a force to be reckoned with. Having not lost a game in two years, they have made being the No. 1 field hockey team in the nation look easy. With expectations high, a talented UNC roster will look to extend its 46-game win streak in 2020.
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