The UNC field hockey team required every single segment of the roster to fight back against Virginia's high press in order to secure a 3-1 win on Friday.
The Cavaliers' pressure only allowed UNC to take 13 shots in regulation, just above the team's season-low 10 shots against Princeton on Sept. 2.
Head coach Karen Shelton said Virginia was the toughest team the Tar Heels have faced so far.
“I thought it was probably the most strategic and tactical game that we played all year, so I’m proud of our Heels,” she said.
Just over a minute into the first period, the Cavaliers put up a shot and drew a penalty corner, but sophomore goalkeeper Abigail Taylor thwarted this scoring attempt.
Taylor, who usually swaps with first-year goalkeeper Kylie Walbert, played the entire game since Walbert was suffering from a hamstring-related injury. She tallied a season-high four saves during regulation and only allowed one goal, which came off a penalty corner in the first half.
Taylor said she relied on communication with the defense to get in position to shut down the Virginia offense.
“Most important (thing) to me, when I'm in a corner or taking a shot, is just keep your eye on the ball, stay focused and do the things that you know how to do – trust yourself,” she said. “Not try (to) get distracted.”
Because Virginia’s team closed off spaces of the field that UNC typically relies on to move the ball upfield, UNC’s midfield and backfield had to stay on the move and work off each other’s positioning. Virginia kept the ball on North Carolina's defensive side for most of the game, preventing the Tar Heels from hitting large passes to move the ball more quickly upfield.