The No. 2 North Carolina field hockey team picked up a 5-1 season-opening win over No. 3 Michigan in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Friday, aided by strong performances by several first-years.
North Carolina wasted no time getting on the board, as just two minutes in, first-year Ryleigh Heck scored a goal to give the team an early lead.
By the end of the first period, the Tar Heels were outshooting the Wolverines, 6-0. Michigan looked to equalize when the second quarter got under way, but two shots and a penalty corner were quickly shut down.
After a wide shot by senior forward Erin Matson, UNC advanced its lead to two with another first-career goal by first-year Ashley Sessa. Despite Michigan’s best efforts, the Tar Heels outshot the Wolverines 8-3 at the half with seven shots on goal.
After a corner and a blocked shot, the Wolverines were finally able to put themselves on the scoreboard in the third period. The Tar Heels responded with three shots in the five minutes following the goal, but play was suspended due to a lightning delay.
Following the stoppage, UNC didn’t lose its momentum. Two minutes after play resumed, Matson added another goal for North Carolina to extend the lead.
Michigan tried to respond with two shots in the span of a minute. Then, Sessa turned things back in her team’s favor with two penalty corners and a shot on goal before the end of the period. The first-year forward and midfielder had another shot on goal in the beginning of the fourth period, followed by a shot on goal by senior Paityn Wirth.
Three minutes into the game’s final quarter, Sessa had her second goal of the game. She succeeded in having her first college hat trick with another goal just two minutes later to give the Tar Heels a 5-1 lead.