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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 2 UNC field hockey picks up 7-0 road win against Cal

The UNC Field Hockey team celebrates a goal scored by fifth-year senior forward Erin Matson (1) during a game against UPenn on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022.

The No. 2 UNC field hockey team (5-0) earned a decisive shutout victory on the road against Cal (1-4), defeating the Bears 7-0 thanks to an explosive five-goal second quarter.

What happened?

After a scoreless first quarter, senior forward Erin Matson got things started for the Tar Heels, scoring twice in the first four minutes of the second quarter. Her first goal came off an assist from first-year forward and midfielder Ashley Sessa less than 30 seconds into the second period. An unassisted goal from Matson came in the 19th minute to put North Carolina up 2-0. 

Matson kickstarted a 5-0 tear in the second quarter, with sophomore forward and midfielder Kennedy Cliggett, sophomore midfielder Jasmina Smolenaars and Sessa each adding a goal of their own later on.

North Carolina was completely dominant throughout the second quarter and out-shot Cal 11-0 in the first half. UNC was also able to accrue penalty corners early in the game, tallying 15 by the time halftime hit.

In the third quarter, Smolenaars scored her second goal of the game in the 35th minute, off of an assist from junior forward Alli Meehan and senior back Romea Riccardo on a penalty corner. Meehan shot UNC out to a 7-0 lead when she scored her first goal as a Tar Heel just a few minutes later on a put-back. 

The Bears finally got off their first shot of the day when sophomore Sabine Hommes's shot was blocked by UNC's goalkeeper. In the final quarter, despite two penalty corners inserted by Cal's sophomore back Sydney Decher, the Bears were unable to convert on any of their shots, losing 7-0. 

Who stood out? 

While the veteran Matson was able to get her offense started in the second quarter, Smolenaars' first and second goals proved especially influential in establishing North Carolina's firm lead. Furthermore, the sophomore totaled seven shots, putting consistent pressure on Cal's defense.

Meehan also stood out as the junior picked up both her first assist and goal of the season in the third quarter.

When was it decided?

By the time the second period was finished, UNC had a 5-0 lead. In under 30 minutes of work, North Carolina had put up more goals against Cal than any team has so far in the Bear's season.

Furthermore, UNC had 16 shots to Cal's 0 shots at this point, even more evidence of the Tar Heels' total control over the game.

Why does it matter?

By the end of the game, Cal only had one shot on goal to UNC's 15. The Tar Heel's improved defensive shape and offensive press proved key yet again in dominating its competition, allowing North Carolina to jump out to a 5-0 start to the season.

North Carolina completely dominated offensive possession, out-shooting Cal 24-3. Furthermore, UNC made an improvement in earning more corners early in the game. The Tar Heels had 15 corners by the end of the first half, making due on a point of emphasis head coach Karen Shelton made after several of the Tar Heels' earlier games.

When do they play next?

UNC will play in its second road match this weekend at Stanford on Sunday at 4 p.m.


@dthsports |

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Shelby Swanson

Shelby Swanson is the 2023-24 sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant sports editor and senior writer. Shelby is a junior pursuing a double major in media and journalism and Hispanic literatures and cultures.