The North Carolina field hockey team (3-1, 2-1 ACC) took the field in Karen Shelton Stadium on Sunday afternoon for its home opener against Virginia (3-2, 2-1 ACC) and defeated the Cavaliers 5-1 in a blowout win.
With no goals in the first quarter, the match started out slow. North Carolina had 4 attempts all miss, but was able to keep Virginia from taking any shots at the goal with some excellent defense. Sophomore back Romea Riccardo was a large part of that defense and did an exceptional job at keeping the ball away from the other team and stealing it back when it slipped away. Junior forward Erin Matson had a close shot with a few minutes left in the first period but wasn’t close enough to score.
The second period began with Matson earning the Tar Heels’ third penalty corner. She had another close shot, but Virginia goalkeeper Taylor Henriksen successfully deflected it. Not even three minutes later, Matson opened the game's scoring with an assist from junior forward Hannah Griggs. The second quarter ended with Virginia missing its first attempt at a goal.
Three minutes into the third quarter, junior back Cassie Sumfest took a shot at the goal and sophomore midfielder Paityn Wirth tapped it in, making the score 2-0 for UNC. Just two minutes later, senior midfielder Eva Smolenaars scored a third goal for North Carolina. To end the action-packed third quarter, Wirth scored her second goal of the game, leaving the score at 4-0 heading into the fourth quarter.
Virginia scored its first goal of the game five minutes into the fourth quarter with a shot by sophomore striker Laura Janssen. North Carolina ended the match with a final score of 5-1 after Griggs sent one last shot into the goal with nearly 11 seconds left.
Who stood out?
Wirth scored twice in her fourth game with the Tar Heels after transferring from Penn State. Griggs had both an assist and a goal, playing a strong offense consistently throughout the entire match. Matson scored the first goal of the game and used her strength to win her foot races and bring the ball up the field.
When was it decided?
Even though the match started off slow, the third quarter picked up the momentum after Smolenaars scored almost right after Wirth. From that point on, the energy was on North Carolina’s side and the team would not back down.
Why does it matter?
This is North Carolina’s second game after losing for the first time in 47 matches. The Tar Heels bounced back with a 4-0 win against Duke and Sunday's 5-1 win against Virginia, leaving them with a 3-1 record in such a shortened 2020 season.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will look to extend its winning streak to three games when it faces Virginia at home again on Monday at noon.
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