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Wednesday February 8th

UNC field hockey beats Duke, 5-4, in sudden-death overtime

<p>UNC graduate back Courtnie Williamson (25) runs upfield during a game against Duke on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020.&nbsp;</p>
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UNC graduate back Courtnie Williamson (25) runs upfield during a game against Duke on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. 

The North Carolina field hockey team (6-1, 3-1 ACC) defeated Duke (0-5, 0-3 ACC) on Sunday by way of a sudden-death overtime goal from junior forward Hannah Griggs.

What happened?

The Blue Devils were the first to strike in the game’s fourth minute, with midfielder Josie Varney rocketing the ball from right in front of the goal past North Carolina goalkeeper Amanda Hendry. Less than a minute later, the Tar Heels struck back to equalize the match with a goal off the stick of redshirt junior Cassie Sumfest.

After a lull in scoring, Duke retook the lead in the 19th minute with a shot from midfielder Lily Posternak. North Carolina then responded with an onslaught of scoring, with junior forward Erin Matson putting the ball in the net and senior midfielder Eva Smolenaars following it up with two consecutive goals, giving the Tar Heels a 4-2 lead. 

As the regulation clock wound down, the Blue Devils notched two more goals in the final minutes of regular time, pushing the game to sudden-death overtime. The tying goal came with the clock at 59:50, pushing the game into overtime with just seconds left on the clock and keeping the momentum in Duke's favor. 

In the game’s 65th minute, UNC finally broke through, as Griggs rocketed a ball into the cage off an assist from Matson, securing a 5-4 victory for the Tar Heels. 

Who stood out? 

Matson was an offensive force for the Tar Heels, scoring one goal and notching two assists to boot. Entering the game as UNC’s points leader, Matson continued to prove her reputation as one of the best field hockey players in the nation. 

Matson entered the game leading the NCAA in both points and goals and is in position to remain at the top of the points leaderboard through the end of the season. 

When was it decided?

The sudden-death goal from North Carolina sealed a victory for a side that has largely lost momentum in the match’s final minutes. With two consecutive Blue Devil goals to push the game into overtime — including one in the 60th minute — the Tar Heels easily could have struggled to respond in the extra time period, yet they were able to convert and come away with the victory.

Why does it matter?

A loss to a Duke team that has yet to win a match this season would have been devastating for the Tar Heel. After losing a historic 47-game winning streak with a loss to Louisville earlier in the year, fighting through to earn a victory against the Tar Heels’ cross-town rival proved the team still has plenty of motivation as it approaches the final stretch of the shortened regular season. 

When do they play next?

With a match against Boston College — originally scheduled for next Sunday — postponed, the Tar Heels aren’t scheduled to compete again until Friday, Oct. 30 against Wake Forest. The game against the Demon Deacons is the last matchup listed on UNC's regular season schedule. 

@zachycrain 

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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