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UNC legend Erin Matson named new head coach of North Carolina field hockey program


UNC senior forward, Erin Matson (1) plays in the National Champion ship game against No. 3 Northwestern on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, at George J. Sherman Sports Complex in Storrs, Conn. UNC won 2-1. 

Following UNC field hockey's national title win in November, former head coach Karen Shelton remarked that it was “a sad day for Carolina field hockey” due to the departure of veteran players like Erin Matson.

Well, not so fast.

The UNC athletic department announced Tuesday that Matson will be taking over the helm of the North Carolina field hockey program.

"To say I'm excited and honored to be the head coach of the UNC field hockey program is an understatement – this is a dream come true," Matson said in a press release. "This program means the world to me, and I will do whatever it takes to continue the excellence that is UNC Field Hockey."

This comes after Shelton, field hockey's winningest collegiate coach, retired in December following 42 seasons at UNC.

Matson, the program's fifth head coach, is the most decorated player in UNC field hockey history. A member of the U.S. National Team and the ACC's all-time leader in goals and points, she captured four national titles and five ACC titles as a forward for UNC. The three-time Honda Sport Award winner and former team captain graduated in December with a degree in advertising and public relations and a minor in coaching education. 

"Erin is an outstanding leader who has a deep and thorough knowledge of the game, understands the balance it takes to be a successful student and athlete, and is determined to expand and propel the winning tradition of Carolina Field Hockey," Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham said. "She knows how to inspire, listen, teach and win – all qualities that will translate well to the sidelines and make her a terrific head coach. We all look forward to supporting her as she transitions and leads in this new role."

Shelton, while unavailable for comment on Tuesday, has previously described Matson’s leadership over the course of last season as remarkable.

“I have nothing but gratitude for having the opportunity to coach Erin for five years,” Shelton said in early November, following Matson’s last home game at Karen Shelton Stadium. “She’s a remarkable player and a remarkable human being. It’s been a joy watching her come in as a young high school student and then morph into the beautiful, strong, powerful woman she’s become.”

Matson will begin immediately, working alongside associate head coach Grant Fulton and assistant coach Caitlin Van Sickle, as the team prepares for the 2023 season.


@dthsports |

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Shelby Swanson

Shelby Swanson is the 2023-24 sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant sports editor and senior writer. Shelby is a junior pursuing a double major in media and journalism and Hispanic literatures and cultures.