Undefeated No. 2 North Carolina field hockey secured its second conference win and fifth consecutive shutout on Friday, defeating No. 15 Wake Forest 2-0.
Friday’s matchup at Karen Shelton Stadium got off to a slow offensive start, with the first shot not coming until after the eighth minute when UNC midfielder Lisa Slinkert’s shot was saved. The Tar Heels struggled with passes that were too strong and were intercepted early on, though they had an effective offensive press, which has come to be expected from this team.
Wake Forest put its first shot on the board eleven minutes into playing time. The shot was wide, but it ended North Carolina’s three game streak of not allowing a shot before halftime. By the end of the first quarter, UNC was outshooting WFU 3-1, but the match remained scoreless.
First-year midfielder and back Sietske Brüning had the first shot of the second quarter, and the Demon Deacons recorded their fourth save of the game. Wake Forest recorded a shot of its own, but UNC first-year Ryleigh Heck demonstrated her team’s dominance by responding with another shot for the Tar Heels. Brüning had another shot that was blocked and first-year Ashley Sessa had a wide shot before the half was over.
UNC’s offense came back strong in the third quarter. Senior forward Paityn Wirth recorded the first two shots of the second half, including a shot on goal. Fellow senior forward Erin Matson quickly followed with a shot on goal, followed by her putting up North Carolina’s first goal of the match less than a minute later.
Four more shots were added by the Tar Heels before the quarter drew to a close, including three additional shots on goal by Matson. Matson also had the first shot of the final quarter, though it was wide. The Demon Deacons made an effort to come back in the final minutes of the game with three consecutive shots, but another goal by Matson shut down any hope they had. This goal put Matson tied for fifth for most NCAA career goals. The 2-0 win serves as UNC’S fifth consecutive shutout and second ACC win of the season.
Who stood out?
North Carolina’s first years have been essential to the team’s refreshing success following last season’s untimely end, and Friday’s match was no exception. Brüning put on a strong offensive performance, playing 58 minutes with three shots and one shot on goal. Early on in the matchup, Sessa dove for a pass on the right side and, despite going out of bounds, reflected her devotion to the game. In addition to the pass, Sessa had an assist and a shot.
This is not to discredit the efforts of hungry upperclassmen looking to pick up a third NCAA title before their time at UNC is over. Seniors Wirth and Matson both played significant roles in Friday’s win. Wirth recorded three shots, including two shots on goal. Matson awarded the Tar Heels their two goals and also put up eight shots.
When was it decided?
Although North Carolina was outshooting Wake Forest 7-2 at halftime with five shots on goal, it still seemed as though this was anyone’s game. The Tar Heels passing was sloppy in the first half, and none of their offensive endeavors resulted in a goal.
Matson put UNC on the scoreboard five minutes into the third quarter, but a one-goal lead doesn’t assure a win, especially with 25 minutes of play remaining. However, by the end of the third quarter, North Carolina’s dominance was more evident than ever, as their passing tightened up and they were outshooting Wake Forest 16-2. It became clear that the Tar Heels’ undefeated season wouldn’t end on Friday.
Why does it matter?
UNC’s victory over Wake Forest marked its first home matchup since Sept. 4. Since then, the team has recorded four consecutive shutouts, with a combined score of 18-0.
Friday’s performance increases their streak to five consecutive shutouts and demonstrates that the Tar Heels can find success both on the road and at home.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Lynchburg, VA next Sunday to face off against Liberty.
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