After opening its season with a win, the North Carolina field hockey team fell short to Louisville, 3-1, on Friday night. The Tar Heels had not lost a game since Oct. 20, 2017. Friday’s loss ended the 47-game winning streak for UNC, previously the longest win streak streak in Division 1 athletics and the second longest in Division 1 field hockey history.
After battling a strong Louisville defense for the entirety of the game, the Tar Heels came away with just one goal by way of junior forward Erin Matson, while Louisville came away with three. Though the Tar Heels continued to attack — notching seven shots — head coach Karen Shelton said Louisville was solid on defense, making it tough for the Tar Heels to get the ball out of the back with a press.
Matson led the Tar Heels' offensive attack, scoring 35 minutes into the game. This was her second goal for the season. Shelton said the team is not passing ball as well as they’d like, so it needs to get back to the basics to fine-tune some offensive skills and increase cohesion.
Who stood out?
Shelton said senior goalkeeper Amanda Hendry stood out for the Tar Heels throughout the game. While Louisville had 12 shots on goal, Hendry had 7 saves.
“She showed leadership with the goal and she had some big time saves,” Shelton said.
Matson was also an impressive force for the Tar Heels, coming off of a season in which she was named ACC Female Athlete of the Year.
When was it decided?
Louisville’s third goal pulled it away from the Tar Heels, making a comeback difficult. After this goal, UNC took Hendry out of the game to try and score an equalizer and send the game into overtime, leaving the net exposed in the games closing moments.
Why does it matter?
This loss was especially tough for UNC, as the team had not lost a game since 2017 Friday. It was the end to a 47-game, 3-year streak, in which the Tar Heels won two national championships, two ACC titles and dominated some of the best competition in the country.
While losing was certainly not an expected part of the Tar Heels' plans, Shelton said the loss could help the team in the long run.
“Sometimes you learn more from a loss than you do from a win,” Shelton said.
The new team has 6 first-years, making it a fairly young squad after losing some senior leadership from the last two year's national title teams.
“The freshman are gaining experience every day,” Shelton said.
Despite the loss, Shelton emphasized her congratulations to Louisville on a great game and win to top a North Carolina team that at times in the last two seasons looked unbeatable.
“Now we can just focus on getting better,” said Shelton.
When do they play next?
Shelton said the team has a short period of time to reflect on the loss and adapt before its next match. The team’s next showdown is slated for Sunday, when the Tar Heels will go head-to-head against Duke. The game will take place at Duke and is scheduled to start at noon. The last time UNC lost a regular season game before Friday was to Duke on Oct. 20, 2017.
UNC now stands at 1-1 for its season and Duke stands at 0-2.
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