The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday February 8th

Karen Shelton earns historic win No. 701 in UNC field hockey's 4-3 win over Syracuse

Redshirt junior back Cassie Sumfest (12) prepares to pass the ball as members of the Syracuse team look on at Karen Shelton Stadium on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020.
Buy Photos Redshirt junior back Cassie Sumfest (12) prepares to pass the ball as members of the Syracuse team look on at Karen Shelton Stadium on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020.

The North Carolina field hockey team defeated Syracuse, 4-3, in overtime on Friday in the ACC Championship semifinals. UNC will advance to face top-seeded Louisville, the only team to beat the Tar Heels this season, in the ACC Championship final on Sunday.

What happened?

The Tar Heels struck first with a goal from senior midfielder Bryn Boylan that was assisted by sophomore back Madison Orobono on a penalty corner by UNC. Syracuse tried to respond but North Carolina goalkeeper Amanda Hendry came up with a save for the Tar Heels.

The Orange had offensive numbers in the final minute of the second quarter, but the UNC defense found a way out of the dangerous situation to hold the Orange scoreless in the first half. The Tar Heels were scoreless in the second quarter and entered the second half holding on to a narrow lead.

Syracuse came out hot on offense to start the second half, scoring its first goal off a corner play less than a minute in. Despite a couple more corner opportunities for the Orange, the score remained 1-1 at the end of the third quarter.

The Tar Heels capitalized on a breakaway opportunity from forward Meredith Sholder, who assisted forward Erin Matson’s goal. The Tar Heels struck again moments later when Matson assisted wide-open sophomore midfielder Paityn Wirth to push the lead to 3-1.

The Orange responded quickly, ending the North Carolina momentum and cutting the lead to just one goal. In the final minute of the second half, Syracuse scored the game-tying goal off a Hailey Bitters deflection. 

UNC only needed five minutes in the overtime period to convert a winning goal and end the game after Boylan finished a penalty stroke that was awarded to the Tar Heels on a penalty against the Syracuse goalkeeper. 

Who stood out? 

Matson is always a standout in North Carolina field hockey games, and she drew the penalty stroke that ultimately won the game for the Tar Heels once Boylan sealed the win with her successful attempt.

When was it decided?

The last minute goal by Syracuse’s Bitters forced overtime against the Tar Heels. The Orange started with the ball in the overtime period, but the Tar Heels countered to force the Syracuse goalie to leave her line two times, with the second of those instances resulting in the penalty stroke that ended the game.

Why does it matter?

The win Friday night sent the Tar Heels to their sixth consecutive ACC Championship final and sets them up with a rematch against the team that broke their two-season-long undefeated streak. With the potential for an NCAA Tournament in the spring, an ACC Tournament title goes a long way on a team’s resume.

The victory was also enough for UNC head coach Karen Shelton to break a tie with UConn’s Nancy Stevens to move Shelton into the top spot on the NCAA’s all-time wins list as a coach with 701 victories, further cementing her as one of the key leaders of collegiate field hockey.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will play again Sunday against No.1 seeded Louisville for the ACC championship. 

@MaryMacPorter1

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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