Revenge is a dish best served cold, but the Tar Heels didn't wait too long to get theirs.
UNC field hockey came into the 2020 campaign riding a historic 46-game winning streak, looking to complete a third straight perfect season that would end in a national championship. The team won its season opener against Wake Forest, 3-1, extending the streak to 47.
Then, on Oct. 2, the Tar Heels played Louisville on the road.
They went down 1-0. They went down 2-0.
Their comeback attempt was stymied and they ultimately lost, 3-1, ending the longest active win streak in Division I sports and the second-longest win streak in NCAA field hockey history.
Head coach Karen Shelton later said the team was sluggish in that game, perhaps a result of an unusual season altered by COVID-19. The Tar Heels had just eight regular season games — half the number they normally play — all against ACC opponents. And there was a nearly two-week gap between the Wake Forest game and the Louisville game.
Still, Shelton and others were quick to say that the team had to (and would) play better. Players mentioned being able to play more freely after the loss, not having to deal with the pressure of perfection every game. Against Duke and Virginia, UNC won its next two games by a combined eight goals.
The margins became thinner after that; the Tar Heels won 2-1 against Virginia on Oct. 12 and 1-0 against Syracuse on Oct. 16. They then had to sweat out a 5-4 overtime win against the Blue Devils, a team they had handled 4-0 just two weeks prior. Junior forward Hannah Griggs scored the decisive goal to avoid a second loss in the 2020 season.
After a matchup against Boston College was postponed and then canceled due to COVID-19, UNC closed the regular season with another rout of Wake Forest, 5-0. Next came a shot at the ACC Championship, and a shot at avenging the team's only defeat since 2017.