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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 9 UNC field hockey falls to No. 10 Liberty for its first loss in Karen Shelton Stadium

Senior midfielder Eva Smolenaars (21) bats the ball during UNC's field hockey game against Liberty University on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Chapel Hill, N.C. Liberty won that game 4-0.

The No. 9 North Carolina field hockey team (8-5, 2-1) dropped its first game ever in Karen Shelton Stadium in a 4-0 blowout loss against the No. 10 Liberty Flames (10-2, 4-0) on Sunday.

What happened?

The Tar Heels started out strong against the Flames’ on Sunday, recording six shots and three penalty corners in the first. The team could not, however, capitalize on any of theses opportunities.

North Carolina’s momentum was halted in the second quarter, when Liberty bounced the ball behind first-year goalkeeper Abigail Taylor’s shoulder and into the cage. In response, UNC drew four corners in the next six minutes of play, each blocked by the Flames.

Just under two minutes into the second half, Liberty shot its second corner clean through North Carolina’s defense to the back of the net to go up 2-0. The Tar Heels earned two more corners and shot the ball five more times in the quarter, but each attempt to score was futile.

On their third penalty corner of the afternoon, the Flames pulled a deception play through an insert to the left of the cage and a diversion shot into the net. Then, Liberty’s Jill Bolton clipped the ball between Taylor’s pads into the goal for their fourth of the evening. The Flames beat the Tar Heels for the first time of their seven meetings, 4-0.

Who stood out? 

The team totaled 19 shots and nine penalty corners on the afternoon. Senior midfielder Cassie Sumfest had four of these shots and three shots on goal and first-year midfielder Jasmina Smolenaars had three and two, respectively. The offensive aggressiveness did not pay off for the Tar Heels in its shutout loss.

When was it decided?

Despite being down a point in the second quarter, the Tar Heels commanded the game until the buzzer sounded to end the half, dominating shots and possession. The Flames pressed more in the third, posting a goal early in the quarter, but North Carolina remained locked in the game. But as the Flames fired one, then two more shots in the fourth, it was clear that UNC was not coming out on top.

Why does it matter?

After winning 41 straight games in its stadium since it opened in the fall of 2018, this game marks North Carolina’s first loss on its home turf. Leading goal scorer Erin Matson was out for the game due to an injury in the Duke matchup, where she scored her 100th career goal. The ninth-ranked Tar Heels now have a 8-5 record on the season.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will face the Demon Deacons in Wake Forest on Friday and the pushback is slated for 5 p.m.

@DTHSports |

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