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The Daily Tar Heel

Ryleigh Heck's hat trick propels No. 1 UNC field hockey to 6-1 win over No. 11 Syracuse

UNC freshman forward Ashley Sessa (3) handles the ball during the field hockey match against Syracuse on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, at Karen Shelton Stadium. UNC beat Syracuse 6-1.

The UNC field hockey team (12-0,4-0 ACC) earned yet another dominant victory over the No. 11 Syracuse Orange (12-3, 2-2 ACC), with a final score of 6-1.

What happened?

First-year midfielder and back Sietske Brüning started the Tar Heels’ first-half scoring run, capitalizing off a penalty corner less than three minutes into the game. 

UNC continued its scoring streak with sophomore forward Kennedy Cliggett earning her third goal of the season with four minutes remaining in the first quarter. When it looked like the first quarter was over, first-year forward and midfielder Ryleigh Heck put the ball in the cage with 2.2 seconds remaining after a missed penalty corner opportunity by the Tar Heels. 

Six minutes into the second quarter, Ryleigh Heck converted off a pass from Erin Matson from the left side of the circle, giving Heck her second goal of the day and making the score 4-0. 

The second half began on a similar foot, with Matson scoring off an assist from Heck to make the score 5-0 only 3 minutes into the third quarter. Six minutes into the fourth quarter, Heck scored her third of the day off a pass from junior back Ciana Riccardo. 

With a little over 30 seconds remaining in the game, Syracuse back Eefke van den Nieuwenhof scored the Orange’s first and only goal of the afternoon.

Who stood out?

Ryleigh Heck earned three goals and one assist in only nine minutes of playing time, earning her first career hat-trick.

With one goal and one assist, Erin Matson became the leading scorer in ACC Field Hockey history.

Heck and Matson accounted for four goals and two assists throughout the game, making it evident that these two have huge goals for the rest of the season.

When was it decided?

With consistent offensive and defensive pressure from the Tar Heels all day, there was little the Orange could possibly do to get back in the game. With four unanswered goals in the first half, the momentum favored UNC all afternoon. The Tar Heels earned 12 penalty corners, which set up lots of great scoring chances and placed pressure on Syracuse goalie Brooke Borzymowski. The Tar Heels cruised to victory with little competition from the Orange.

Why does it matter?

This win starts off the Tar Heels’ home stretch on a good foot, setting the course for the rest of the season and postseason. With Matson becoming a new record holder and Heck earning her first career hat-trick, it was a memorable day for this Tar Heel team. With 20 shots compared to Syracuse’s 12, the Tar Heels offense had great success with getting the ball in the net. No defensive effort was given up for this offensive success, as Syracuse only scored one goal with UNC goalies Kylie Walbert and Abigail Taylor accounting for 4 saves throughout the game.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will face the Virginia Cavaliers next Friday at 4 p.m. at Karen Shelton Stadium.


@dthsports |

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