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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 5 UNC field hockey shut out in 5-0 loss to No.11 Syracuse

UNC senior forward Erin Matson (1) carries the ball down the field during field hockey's home opener against Miami on Sept. 19, 2021, at Karen Shelton Stadium. UNC won 7-2.

After trailing 3-0 at halftime, the No. 5 North Carolina field hockey team (6-4, 1-1 ACC) fell to No. 11 Syracuse (7-2, 2-0 ACC), 5-0, on the road in an offensive standstill on Friday.

What happened?

Not even 10 minutes into play, the Orange bounced its first ball into the cage over UNC first-year goalkeeper Abigail Taylor’s head. Just three minutes later, Syracuse snuck the ball inside the circle between the legs of UNC first-year back Kelly Smith and set it up for Syracuse forward Hailey Bitters to tap the ball into the net.

Though North Carolina drew five penalty corners in the second quarter, the Tar Heels failed to capitalize and remained scoreless in the first half. In the Orange’s second of three corners in that quarter, they shot the ball straight to the left corner of the cage to build a 3-0 lead entering halftime.

The third period was quiet for both teams as UNC managed to save all three of Syracuse’s corner attempts, but failed to convert on either of its two shots.

In the fourth, the Tar Heels let in two more goals — the first crossed from outside of the circle and the second off an intercepted UNC pass and a backhanded shot to chip the ball into the net. After struggling to find any offensive production, the Tar Heels fell, 5-0.

Who stood out? 

First-year midfielder Jasmina Smolenaars put up four shots and UNC’s only shot on goal in the evening. Senior forward Erin Matson matched Smolenaars with four shots of her own.

Despite allowing five goals, Taylor had five saves in the game — her second-highest of the season behind her seven-save performance against Princeton.

When was it decided?

After trailing by three goals in the half, North Carolina needed to garner some serious production to catch up in the third and fourth quarters. But after a slew of shots from Matson, Smolenaars, junior midfielder Paityn Wirth and senior midfielder Eva Smolenaars were unsuccessful, the Tar Heels were unable to dig themselves out of the hole.

Why does it matter?

After thrashing Boston College in a 6-1 victory last weekend, the loss on Friday marked the Tar Heels' first conference loss of the season. The defeat also marked the first time UNC lost by five or more goals since 2008.

In all three of Syracuse’s and North Carolina’s matchups last season, the Orange fell to UNC by a one-point deficit. Syracuse redeemed itself in this game by being the first team to outshoot the Tar Heels all season.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will play Albany on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. for its second road game of the weekend.

@DTHSports |

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