The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

By the Numbers: Just how dominant is UNC field hockey legend Erin Matson?

UNC senior forward Erin Matson (1) protects the ball during the Tar Heels' match against Wake Forest on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, at Karen Shelton Stadium.

For most NCAA field hockey players, a four-goal performance would be seen as a career highlight and likely one of the highest-scoring games in school history. Last season, only eight players across the country accomplished such a feat.

However, North Carolina forward Erin Matson breaks the mold.

She is the most statistically dominant college field hockey player at any level over the last decade, and her success has been a key part of why the Tar Heels have won so many important games during her time at UNC. Matson has been part of three national championships and won four straight ACC titles at UNC.

So, when Matson added career goals 119, 120, 121 and 122 in her fourth-career four-goal game against Liberty University on Sunday, it was merely another phenomenal game in her illustrious career as a Tar Heel.

Matson came to Chapel Hill with a decorated resume, having been named to the United States Women’s National Field Hockey Team before turning 18 years old and winning a medley of international medals in her junior career. Her time at UNC has ascended her to legend status, not just for the Tar Heels, but for the game of field hockey as a whole.

Matson has won ACC Offensive Player of the Year in each of her previous four seasons, and through nine games this year, she is on track to win the award again.

Her total goals lead the conference and rank second nationally, behind only Northwestern University forward Bente Baekers, who has played an additional three games. Matson has also been the key offensive force for the team with one of the best offenses in the nation, with UNC ranking second among all Division I programs in scoring average.

Matson has also won the Honda Sports Award — given to the most outstanding female athlete in their respective sport — twice. This season, she's looking to add a third award to her collection. If that were to happen, she would join UNC head coach Karen Shelton as the only two players to win the award three times for field hockey.

For Matson, this season is just another outstanding one in her excellent career as a Tar Heel. She has already moved from eighth to fifth on the NCAA's all-time leaderboard for career goals. With 11 more, she would rise to third on the list. 

She ranks fifth all-time in points per game and is the active leader among all Division I players in career points, goals, assists, points per game and goals per game. 

At this point, Matson’s career legacy is already set in stone. Statistically, she's the best player in UNC’s storied field hockey program and one of the greatest Tar Heel athletes ever.

There's little doubt Matson will be remembered as arguably the best collegiate field hockey player of the 21st century and the school confirmed she will have her jersey retired after her career wraps up.

But if it seems like she has accomplished it all, there is still one reason why she returned to Chapel Hill for a fifth and final season. The undefeated Tar Heels have a realistic shot at winning their sixth-straight ACC championship and the program's tenth NCAA championship. Those goals are certainly attainable given UNC’s current status as the No. 1 ranked team in both the Coaches Poll and the RPI metric.

A lot can still happen in the remaining games this season. But, with number one on the field, the number one team in the nation will always have a chance to compete on the national stage.  


@dthsports |

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.