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No. 2 UNC field hockey earns back-to-back road wins with 6-0 victory over Stanford

Senior back Romea Riccardo (11) battles with Princeton junior forward Liz Agatucci (18) for the ball as they run down the field. UNC beat Princeton 4-3 at home on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

The No. 2 UNC field hockey team (6-0) decimated Stanford (2-3) in a 6-0 victory in Stanford, Calif.

What happened?

UNC had a surprisingly slow start despite getting many shots off early.

Just over two minutes into the game, first-year midfielder and back Sietske Brüning had her shot blocked. 20 seconds later, another North Carolina shot, this time from first-year forward and midfielder Ashley Sessa, was saved by Stanford first-year goalkeeper Daisy Ford. 

Neither team got another shot off until fifth-year senior forward Erin Matson's attempt as the clock ticked down in the opening period. Ford made another save on this shot, keeping the score at 0-0 heading into the second period.

To kick off the second period, first-year midfielder and forward Ryleigh Heck scored in the 16th minute of play — marking the fourth time in sixth games that the North Beach, N.J. native has been the firestarter for the North Carolina offense. Just over two minutes later, junior midfielder and back Katie Dixon dove to tip in a ball on a behind-the-back assist from senior midfielder Paityn Wirth. 

After earning no corners in the opening period, UNC earned two in the second period, with sophomore forward and midfielder Kennedy Cliggett converting on a put-back on the first corner and Sessa scoring on a rebound on the second. These back-to-back goals off of corners put UNC up 4-0 at the half.

North Carolina continued to add to its lead coming out of halftime, with a quick score from sophomore midfielder Lisa Slinkert, who converted on the Tar Heels' first penalty stroke of the season to add to UNC's lead.

After a shot from Dixon hit the goalpost in the 42nd minute of action, Heck capitalized on a rebound for her second goal of the game to make the final score 6-0 for North Carolina.

Who stood out? 

Ford initially stood out due to the first-year's poise in the goal. Despite the Cardinal's stagnant offense, she made several saves early to keep Stanford in the game.

After the first quarter, Heck stood out for scoring the eventual game-winner. The U.S. National Team member continued to impress as an offensive leader when she scored her second goal of the night in the third period, marking her first multi-goal game at UNC.

When was it decided?

After a slow opening period, UNC's explosive second period sealed the game for the Tar Heels. North Carolina continued to pound the goal, putting up nine shots in 15 minutes and converting four of these for goals.

Heading into halftime, North Carolina proved to be in complete control of possession, outshooting Stanford 12-0 and earning two corners to the Cardinal's zero.

Why does it matter?

UNC's victory over Stanford extends North Carolina's undefeated start to the season and further solidifies Heck's role as an initiator on offense 

This win also shows the Tar Heels' overall explosive scoring capabilities. Notably, out of UNC's six goals, none came from the veteran Matson, displaying North Carolina's improved offensive arsenal from last year.

When do they play next?

UNC will hit the road again to face ACC opponent Louisville in Kentucky on Friday, Sept. 16. The game is set to take place at 3 p.m.


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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.