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No. 7 Iowa hands No. 1 UNC women's field hockey its first loss since November 2021 in 3-2 OT thriller

UNC forwards Ryleigh Heck (12, left) and Alli Meehan (18, right) defend an Iowa player at the field hockey game on Aug. 27, 2023, in Karen Shelton Stadium. UNC lost 3-2 in overtime.

On Sunday afternoon, the No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team (1-1) was handed its first loss of the season by the No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0). This is UNC's first defeat since November 2021. 

After six early shot attempts, North Carolina finally found the back of the net. Working off of a blocked penalty corner shot, senior midfielder Katie Dixon capitalized off of Iowa’s slow effort to attack the loose ball and the Tar Heels took the early lead 1-0 heading into the second quarter. 

“It felt good to get a goal, but it came from the corner. We just focus on rebounds a lot so I know that’s drilled in my head like get on the ball as soon as it's off the goalie,” Dixon said.

After their first goal, North Carolina struggled to maintain its momentum as Iowa worked to limit the Tar Heels’ offensive dominance. By cutting UNC’s shot attempts in half, the Hawkeyes were able to take advantage of a penalty corner with the help of first-year midfielder Dionne van Aalsum tying the score 1-1. 

Throughout the second half, North Carolina’s offensive strategy changed completely. Behind two penalty corners and a full-drive play, the Tar Heels were able to take the lead once again with the help of sophomore midfielder Sietske Brüning, who hit a hard drive into the back of the net to push UNC out to a 2-1 lead. As the game continued, like the first half, Iowa continued to apply pressure while the Tar Heels waned. 

The Hawkeyes finally found success with a little over six minutes left to play, tying the Tar Heels 2-2 off of their fourth penalty corner attempt in the quarter thanks again to Aaslum. As the fourth quarter closed with a tied score, the Tar Heels prepared to go into overtime against the Hawkeyes once again. 

“We have played scenarios in practice so tying 2-2 we felt comfortable as a team. We knew that we could fight hard through it and get through it together,” Dixon said. 

In UNC's overtime battle against Iowa at the beginning of the 2022 season, the Tar Heels came out victorious with a score of 3-2.

On Sunday, the Tar Heels found themselves on the other side of the score. In a sudden-death overtime, the Hawkeyes found the back of the net within two minutes to take down North Carolina. First-year Lieve Van Kessel was the hero for Iowa in overtime, scoring her first goal on the season in dramatic fashion.

“We’ll go and debrief the film. There are certain things that we can get better at,” coach Erin Matson said. “We gave up too many corners. A couple mid-field turnovers, but overall it felt like we dominated that game.” 

Now, the Tar Heels will look to bounce back when they begin the ACC-Ivy Challenge against the University of Pennsylvania this Friday at 1 p.m.

@dthsports |

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