The North Carolina field hockey team (7-1, 3-1 ACC) defeated Wake Forest (3-7, 2-4 ACC) 5-0 on Friday in the final game of the regular season.
North Carolina took a 3-0 lead entering the second half of Friday’s game. Junior forward Erin Matson opened up the game for the Tar Heels with a goal early in the first quarter, assisted by redshirt junior back Cassie Sumfest.
Minutes later, Sumfest scored on a goal assisted by junior midfielder Abby Pitcairn and sophomore back Romea Riccardo.
Redshirt junior forward Meredith Sholder scored the only point in the second quarter, as she converted on an unassisted goal.
In the beginning of the fourth quarter, Matson scored her second goal of the game on an assist from first-year Katie Dixon to extend the lead to 4-0. Matson scored an unassisted third goal with a little over five minutes remaining in the fourth. Though the shot differential was tight, with North Carolina leading 14-10, the Tar Heels were able to convert on more opportunities and take control of the game offensively.
UNC entered Friday’s game leading the conference in goals made, and Matson added to the team’s total with her hat trick against Wake Forest.
“I think our team gains a lot of energy and momentum from scoring and putting the ball in the back of the net early,” Matson said. “That definitely correlates with us this year. If we come out with that energy, we can sustain it throughout the game.”
For the third consecutive season, Matson is leading the team in goals and assists. This production has bolstered the team’s offensive consistency, and Matson said that she stays aggressive offensively to give the team a standard to play to on the attacking end.
“For me, it’s just having that attitude and helping others find it within themselves,” Matson said. “I enjoy scoring a lot, I love scoring. I think it’s something I’ll always enjoy.”
Matson’s offensive abilities garner praise from others within the team.
“She has just uncanny game sense, vision, tactical and technical abilities,” head coach Karen Shelton said. “She’s tough to handle, and any team has to devote a lot of attention to her. Sometimes she gets covered, but she has the vision to then pass the ball to others who are open.”
Despite playing a much shorter season, the UNC field hockey team, led by Matson's attacking prowess, will be focusing all of its efforts on the ACC Tournament.
“We focus on each game as it comes, so we’re just really focusing on our first round of the ACC Tournament,” Sumfest said.
UNC finished with a 7-1 record in the shortened season and a 3-1 record in the ACC. The team is slated to play its first ACC Tournament game on Nov. 5 at home in Karen Shelton Stadium.
“Every game is good and really competitive,” Shelton said. “I think it’s exciting for us. We realize how fortunate we are to be playing. It’s been a shorter preparation, but postseason is still postseason.”
Shelton said she and the Tar Heels look forward to hosting the tournament in Chapel Hill this season, adding that the team plans to forgo staying in a hotel as they have in years past in order to limit exposure to COVID-19.
“We’re pleased that it’s here,” Shelton said. “We don’t have to ride a bus over to Duke. We’re just going to do like we normally do and play those games here.”
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