The No. 1 UNC field hockey team defeated No. 4 Michigan in its season opener with a final score of 3-2, the first victory for the Tar Heels with coach Erin Matson.
With goals from midfielders Lisa Slinkert and Kiersten Thomassey, and a standout performance from junior goalkeeper Abigail Taylor, the Tar Heels seem to have adjusted to their new roster smoothly.
The game started out with a slow tempo as both defenses were outshining their offensive counterparts. Uncharacteristically for the Tar Heels, they finished the first quarter trailing 0-1 after Wolverines first-year forward Juliette Manzur found the back of the net. This is the first time North Carolina has trailed after the first quarter since August 28, 2022, when the squad faced Iowa.
“They (Michigan) did a really good job of executing on one opportunity we gave them,” senior forward Paityn Wirth said. “Hats off to them, but we definitely weren’t letting up there.”
However, that did not last long.
Only 74 seconds into the second quarter, the Tar Heels got on the board with a goal from Slinkert on a breakaway. Senior midfielder Katie Dixon received the ball at the top of the circle and slung it to Slinkert, who drilled the ball into the net. Matson was visibly ecstatic, jumping and celebrating on the sidelines.
“The atmosphere here tonight with the fans and under the lights and the energy the team brought was just incredible,” Matson said. “It reminded me of the national championship back here.”
After their first goal, the Tar Heels began pressuring the circle. It was evident that the team wanted a penalty corner, and they soon got what they were looking for. Senior midfielder Kiersten Thomassey wrapped the ball around a defender and forced the ball to the left post, eventually ricocheting into the net to give the Tar Heels their first lead of the night late in the first half.
Just minutes later, first-year midfielder Sanne Hak got tripped in the far right corner, resulting in a penalty corner. A few seconds after the hit-in, Slinkert earned her second goal of the night off a high ball straight into the net. The Tar Heels finished the first half on top 3-1.