The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday February 8th

UNC field hockey outlasts Virginia, 3-1, in rematch of 2021 ACC Championship

UNC senior forward Erin Matson (1) runs past defenders during a 3-1 victory over Virginia at Karen Shelton Stadium on Oct. 21, 2022.
Buy Photos UNC senior forward Erin Matson (1) runs past defenders during a 3-1 victory over Virginia at Karen Shelton Stadium on Oct. 21, 2022.

On Friday, the No. 1 UNC field hockey team routed No. 7 Virginia, 3-1 in a rematch of the 2021 ACC Championship.

What happened?

The Cavaliers began to press the Tar Heel defense early, putting up a shot and drawing a penalty corner within the first two minutes of regulation. UNC responded by earning a corner of its own, but a head-to-head collision between senior forward Erin Matson and a defender prevented North Carolina from capitalizing.

UNC earned its second corner without Matson on the field, who was getting tended to for her head injury. Inserted by first year forward Ashley Sessa, the ball was stick-stopped cleanly and then shot to the back left corner of the cage by first-year midfielder Siestke Bruning. 

Back in the game, Matson earned a penalty stroke from a Cavalier hooking call. In textbook fashion, she easily slid the ball in to grant North Carolina a 2-0 lead in the first quarter.

Using their second earned penalty corner of the first half, the Cavaliers shot the ball wide, which ricocheted off the stick of a UNC defender and into the goal. With Virginia knocking on the door with less than a minute left in the half, Matson wove around the right side of the Cavalier goalkeeper and scooped the ball up for a score. Matson’s second goal of the game brought UNC to 3-1 by the half.

Throughout the second half, North Carolina withstood pressure from Virginia, defending six shots and three penalty corners. Even after drawing three consecutive corners in the last minutes of play and sending out five shots in the second half, UNC could not muster an accurate shot and held onto their two-goal lead, 3-1.

Who stood out? 

Matson’s two goals put her at 19 for the season and tallied her to 308 points in her UNC career.

Sophomore goalkeeper Abigail Taylor, who had been splitting time in goal with first-year goalkeeper Kylie Walbert all season, remained in the cage for the entirety of the game for the first time this season. Taylor had four saves on the afternoon.

When was it decided?

It appeared that the Cavaliers would give the unbeaten Tar Heels a run for their money after their goal in the second quarter, given Virginia’s strength in converting corner opportunities. However, Matson’s goal right before the halftime buzzer pushed the Tar Heels to a two-score advantage, leaving Virginia without an answer.

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels hadn’t seen the Cavaliers on the turf since the ACC tournament championship last season, when UNC won its fifth straight conference title in a 1-0 shutout. Going into Friday’s matchup, the No. 1 seed for the 2022 ACC tournament was on the line for both teams, as UNC was ranked No. 1 and Virginia sat at No. 3. This win for UNC improved it to 5-0 in the conference and sealed its No. 1 spot in the tournament, ahead of the Cavaliers, who now hold a 3-3 record in the ACC.

When do they play next?

UNC will be back in action for Senior Day on Sunday at 2 p.m., hosting Saint Joseph’s.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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