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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 7 UNC field hockey caps off dominant weekend with 3-1 win over No. 15 Connecticut


Senior forward Meredith Sholder (2) fights for the ball on Sept. 26 2021. The Tar Heels beat the UConn Huskies 3-1 at Karen Shelton Stadium.

The No. 7 North Carolina field hockey team (6-3, 1-0 ACC) finished off its weekend strong, taking down No. 15 Connecticut (4-6, 1-1 Big East), 3-1, at Karen Shelton Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The win helped the Tar Heels move to 6-3 on the season and win their fourth consecutive game.

What happened?

UConn drew first blood when junior midfielder McKenna Sergi scored from right in front of the UNC goal. Sergi’s goal just 4:17 into the game was the only one of the first quarter. North Carolina came close to equalizing off a penalty corner, but senior forward Erin Matson’s shot missed just left of the goal.

Matson got another prime opportunity with 12:25 left in the second, but her backhand attempt got saved by UConn goalkeeper Cheyenne Sprecher. Another penalty corner ensued that led to two shots by first-year midfielder Jasmina Smolenaars, but both attempts got blocked before they reached the goal. 

UConn’s Madi Herb then earned a yellow card that led to Jasmina’s older sister, senior midfielder Eva Smolenaars, putting another shot on net, but Sprecher rose to the occasion and made the save.

Still in the second, Matson capitalized on an errant UConn pass right to the doorstep and tied the game at one. This was her 12th goal of the season, and it came with just under nine minutes left in the half. 

In the third quarter, senior midfielder Cassie Sumfest nearly scored off a penalty corner, but her shot got deflected off a UConn defender’s stick. Another penalty corner opportunity awaited the Tar Heels with six and a half minutes left, but shots from both Matson and Sumfest didn’t reach the goal.

Matson received a green card with a minute and a half left in the third, but UConn couldn’t take advantage of its powerplay, and the teams entered the final quarter tied at one.

North Carolina scored its second goal just over two minutes into the fourth when Matson, fresh off her two-minute penalty, ripped a backhanded shot to the top left corner. 

UNC scored its third goal of the afternoon with 2:48 left when sophomore midfielder Katie Dixon, assisted by Matson, found the back of the net for her third goal of the season. Matson recorded her eighth assist this year and moved within one of third place on the all-time assists list at North Carolina.

Who stood out? 

Matson – the all-time goals and points leader in UNC history – added to her astonishing career totals on Sunday with two goals and an assist. She now sits at the top of the goals scored and total points all-time lists at UNC, while also ranking fourth on the career assists list. 

Dixon scored on Matson’s assist, and Sumfest’s presence in the middle of the field cannot be understated. She took three shots and controlled the team’s clearing effort from defense to offense. 

When was it decided?

Dixon extended the Tar Heels’ lead to two goals with less than three minutes remaining, practically ending the game and ensuring the UNC victory. UConn did not get another serious scoring opportunity.

Why does it matter?

North Carolina maintained its momentum from Friday’s thrashing of No. 5 Boston College, and the Tar Heels kept their undefeated streak at Karen Shelton Stadium intact. 

When do they play next?

UNC travels to New York this weekend to take on Syracuse on Friday and Albany on Sunday. The game starts at 4 p.m. on the ACC Network, while the Albany game begins at 11:30 a.m.

@DTHSports |   

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