To end the regular season, the North Carolina field hockey team will travel to Charlottesville, Va. and take on the Virginia Cavaliers before the start of the ACC Championship.
UNC entered this season after claiming the last three NCAA Championships, back-to-back undefeated seasons in 2018 and 2019 and only one loss in 2020, combining to a 65-1 three-year record.
This season proved to be more difficult for the Tar Heels, however. They have a current record of 9-6, and lost at Karen Shelton Stadium for the first time in history on Oct. 10. The season has included several ups and downs, but with the ACC tournament approaching, North Carolina has the opportunity make a run at the conference championship.
The Cavaliers enter Friday's game with a 10-6 record and on the heels of a three-game winning streak. The last time these teams faced off was on April 9, with the Tar Heels coming out on top 3-2 in overtime.
Here are some important players to look out for as the Tar Heels look to win their regular season finale.
North Carolina's star senior forward Erin Matson has been sidelined for the last three games due to an injury. This season, Matson leads the team in goals and assists, with 18 and eight, respectively. The team has gone 1-2 in the absence of her offensive production.
Matson has continued to make history in the program in her senior season. In UNC's September matchup against Penn, Matson became the program’s leader in career goals, with 87, and points, with 221. She earned her 100th career goal earlier this month in the team's game against Duke, in which she suffered her injury.
If UNC can get Matson back for its regular season finale, her offensive skills will aid the Tar Heels' efforts against their conference foe.
With Matson out due to a finger injury, first-year forward and midfielder Kennedy Cliggett has stepped up to the plate to fill those big shoes.
On Senior Day, the Tar Heels suffered an overtime loss to the Louisville Cardinals, but Cliggett played a strong game. She broke a scoreless tie, putting North Carolina in the lead in the third period and ending the match with two shots and one goal.
Cliggett's offensive skills have been something to note since she’s stepped foot on the field. In early September, she delivered a strong weekend performance by earning two goals against Princeton and Penn in back-to-back games.
Whether Matson returns for the regular season finale or not, Cliggett will be an important offensive player for the Tar Heels.
Senior midfielder Cassie Sumfest is a seasoned player who has been a force to be reckoned with since her arrival to Chapel Hill in 2017.
Sumfest has accumulated 39 points, 14 goals and 11 assists in 78 games as a Tar Heel, and her success has rolled over into the 2021 season.
Sumfest has proven to be a leader on the team, greatly contributing to several wins this season. In UNC's game against Drexel, Sumfest led the team with five shots and three goals. She was also named ACC Defensive Player of the Week after leading the Tar Heel defense that helped defeat Wake Forest on Oct. 15.
On a fairly young team, Sumfest’s defensive skills have aided the team’s success and should help UNC in its final regular season game.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.