After a difficult loss to No. 9 Liberty last weekend, the No. 10 North Carolina field hockey team (9-5, 3-1 ACC) fought back with a 1-0 win at No. 15 Wake Forest (5-7, 1-4 ACC) on Friday.
North Carolina came out hot, with the first shot on goal of the game coming from senior forward Hannah Griggs twelve minutes in. This attempt was quickly followed by a goal for the Tar Heels, the first career goal for sophomore back Ciana Riccardo. This goal was assisted by first-year midfielder Jasmina Smolenaars.
UNC entered the second period with a 1-0 lead, one that senior midfielder Eva Smolenaars tried to increase but her first shot of the second period was blocked. At this point in the game, Wake Forest had only taken one shot on goal compared to North Carolina’s three.
The Tar Heels only further dominated the game in the third period, taking three shots on goal. These shots were taken by Riccardo, Jasmina Smolenaars, and senior forward Meredith Sholder. Sholder would go on to attempt another shot on goal in the fourth period that failed to score due to an impressive defensive save by the Demon Deacons.
The fourth period also saw three shots on goal by graduate student midfielder Cassie Sumfest. Although no more goals were scored by either team, the North Carolina offense fought until the end, allowing UNC to walk away with a 1-0 win.
Who stood out?
Riccardo kick started her team’s success with her first career goal in Friday’s game. This goal gave North Carolina the lead early on in the matchup and created a strong energy for the team. She went on to take another shot in the third quarter, showing her aggressiveness beyond her first made shot. After assisting the back line in her seven game appearances last season, Riccardo proved her full potential to the Tar Heel team tonight.
Sumfest’s strong offense was also a contributor in the Wake Forest win. The midfielder’s hustle allowed her to make three of the Tar Heels’ ten shots on goal in the game.
When was it decided?
After Riccardo’s goal at the 13-minute point, things began falling apart for Wake Forest. They failed to keep up offensively with the Tar Heel team that was eager for a win. The Demon Deacons were outshot 18-9 and only made two shots on goal. Their defensive efforts were admirable, with goalkeeper Tori Glaister making eight saves, but the Wake Forest team proved unable to recover from UNC’s early lead.
Why does it matter?
Friday evening’s faceoff against the Demon Deacons was the Tar Heels’ second consecutive game against a ranked team. They fell to No. 9 Liberty 4-0 at home on Sunday, so the Wake Forest matchup was a chance for North Carolina to prove it can hold their own against other ranked teams.
It’s been a difficult season for UNC field hockey so far, having already accumulated more losses than they did in the past three seasons combined. They now have an 9-5 record, something it will need to improve on if the team wants a chance at a fourth consecutive national title. North Carolina took an important step in improving their record with tonight’s win.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will return home for next Friday’s 4:00 p.m. game against No. 6 Louisville.
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