STORRS, Conn.— The No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team (21-0) defeated the Northwestern Wildcats (20-5) to clinch the national championship with a final score of 2-1 on Sunday.
The first quarter of the title game was very similar to the Tar Heels’ semifinal game against Penn State. North Carolina had substantial offensive pressure and had four shots on goal compared to Northwestern’s zero but the Tar Heels could not convert. After two unsuccessful penalty corners and one penalty stroke, the buzzer sounded and the first quarter came to a close with zeros for both teams on the scoreboard.
The second quarter started on a similar note with North Carolina pushing offensively and creating two penalty corner opportunities in the first two minutes. The first ended unsuccessfully, with a shot by first-year midfielder and back Sietske Brüning being saved by Northwestern goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz. The second, however, ended with the first goal of the game, as Brüning found first-year midfielder and forward Ryleigh Heck at the penalty stroke marker with her stick down. Brüning sent it in and the deflection off Heck’s stick gave the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead.
The remainder of the second period was stagnant for both teams, and North Carolina went into the locker room up one.
The third quarter was slow in the early minutes, but UNC had consistent offensive possession. Matson drew a penalty corner, but Heck and Sessa could not capitalize on their chances. The third quarter was relatively light with action with only three Tar Heel shots. North Carolina maintained its one-goal lead throughout the third quarter and held Northwestern scoreless.
The fourth quarter began with a burst of Wildcat momentum. Northwestern fifth-year forward Bente Baekers had a gaping net, but the pass missed her stick. The Wildcats buzzed early, getting their first shot of the game four minutes into the final quarter. Baekers hammered a shot towards the cage but it went wide left. Northwestern earned a late penalty corner with two minutes to go, and a massive shot from Baekers knotted the game at one.
39 seconds later, Wirth drove down the field and found Matson who punched it in for North Carolina and secured a 2-1 victory.