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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 2 UNC field hockey rallies to beat No. 5 Iowa 3-2 in overtime


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. 2 North Carolina field hockey team (2-0, 0-0 ACC) beat No. 5 Iowa (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) 3-2 in overtime in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Sunday in Winston-Salem, N.C.

What happened?

Less than four minutes into the game, junior Alex Wesneski redirected a shot from the top of the circle that snuck up high past first-year goalkeeper Kylie Walbert to put the Hawkeyes up 1-0. 

The start of the second quarter seemed like the start of the first quarter. Less than two minutes into the second, senior midfielder and forward Sofie Stribos ripped a reverse shot from the top of the circle that went straight past Walbert to put the Hawkeyes up 2-0.

The Tar Heels outshot the Hawkeyes 10-2 in the first half, but the Hawkeyes' fifth-year goalkeeper Grace McGuire registered six saves and Iowa converted on its only two shots to keep its two-goal advantage heading into the break.

To start the second half, the Tar Heels inserted sophomore goalkeeper Abigail Taylor, who started all 20 games last season as a true first-year. 

In the third quarter, senior forward and midfielder Meredith Sholder fed the ball from the right side into the middle of the circle to sophomore midfielder Lisa Slinkert, who shot it into the goal to give UNC its first goal of Sunday's game.

With just over seven minutes to go, and the Tar Heels trailing the Hawkeyes 2-1, UNC set up for a corner. The ball bounced around the middle of the circle and first-year midfielder Sietske Brüning shot the ball and scored to tie the game 2-2. 

In overtime, first-year forward and midfielder Ashley Sessa shot a laser from the top of the circle that was saved by McGuire. After the ball bounced off McGuire’s pads, senior forward Erin Matson was there to clean up the rest and put the ball in the back of the cage and give the Tar Heels the come-from-behind win.

Who stood out?

For the Hawkeyes, McGuire dominated in the first half and made several impressive saves, including three on shots attempted by Matson. McGuire finished the afternoon with 11 saves, which set a career high.

Fending off double teams throughout the contest, Sessa and Matson were mostly held in check by the Hawkeye defense before Matson broke through for the game winner. 

Although the game was tightly contested, UNC outshot Iowa 22-2.

When was it decided?

The game went to overtime, with the first team that scores winning the game. The Tar Heels came back from being down 2-0 to winning 3-2. 

Why does it matter?

North Carolina and Iowa are two of the premier field hockey teams in the nation. Facing each other early in the season allows both teams to find an identity pushing forward throughout the rest of the season. 

First-year players Ashley Sessa, Ryleigh Heck, Sietske Bruning, and Kylie Walbert all checked into the game against Iowa today and played big roles. 

After a 5-1 beatdown of No. 3 Michigan on Friday, Sunday's win gave the Tar Heels two impressive victories over quality opponents.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will play the Princeton Tigers in the ACC-Ivy League Challenge on Friday at 2 p.m. in Chapel Hill.  

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