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Charly Bruder is 'big-time' for Tar Heels field hockey against Louisville

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UNC first-year forward Charly Bruder (2) runs after the ball during the first half of a game against Louisville on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Karen Shelton Stadium.

First-year forward Charly Bruder took one look at the glittering silver, gold and blue national championship rings her new teammates received in August and knew she had to have one too.

Over the summer, the North Carolina field hockey team gathered for the program’s annual day trip to Lake Gaston where the team unveiled and gave out the rings. Two of those rings' owners, head coach Erin Matson and senior midfielder Kiersten Thomassey, are in agreement about the new addition to their roster.

After UNC's recent match against Louisville, they both said Bruder is “big time.” 

No. 2 UNC shut out the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals in a 2-0 home victory to open up ACC play on Friday afternoon. Capitalizing on a penalty corner in the fourth quarter, Bruder’s tone-shifting goal reignited the North Carolina offense and put away the top-five match-up in the Tar Heels’ favor. 

The first-year has scored at least one goal in three of UNC's last four games, including two goals against Penn on Sept. 1. With Friday’s successful penalty corner, she took her place as the team’s leading scorer. 

“Charly is one of those players that you can always rely on to come through in those big-time moments,” Thomassey said. “So definitely proud of her for being able to put [the goal] away. She definitely changed the momentum of the game."

Thomassey’s goal in the seventh minute put North Carolina on the board first, but afterward, the Tar Heels struggled to build offensive momentum. The ball floated between players and teams in the midfield but rarely went inside the circle in Cardinal territory. 

UNC averages 15.3 shots per game, but in the first 30 minutes of play, the North Carolina offensive front only put up four and had yet to force a penalty corner. 

Something had to change. 

“OK, we're in,” Matson said of the team's mindset toward the end of the game. “We did all the work to get here. We need to put it away.”

The team’s first penalty corner attempt early in the third quarter slung wide. The second attempt was kicked away by the Louisville goalie. With the Cardinals amping up the pressure and finding rhythm in North Carolina territory, a game-tying goal seemed on the horizon.

When the opportunity arose for another attempt at a penalty corner in the fourth quarter, assistant coach Manuel Garcia Nieto wanted to go for a one-hit stroke. Matson said the coaching staff decided to put their trust in Bruder to execute. 

“They always talk in practice about getting a shot on target,” Bruder said. “My main goal was to get it on target and try to find the back of the cage.”

Graduate student midfielder Pleun Lammers inserted the ball from the backline and senior back Romea Riccardo set up for a shot. Meanwhile, Bruder set her eyes ahead of her, pulled back and whistled the ball past the goalie into the left corner of the cage, right on target. 

Thomassey said Bruder’s consistency is what makes her “big time.” 

“That's what big-time players do," Matson said. "When a goal is needed or something [is needed] to shift the momentum and push it over the edge even further, they come up big,” 

With her big-time goal in a big-time game, Bruder looks to have a long Tar Heel career ahead of her.

@carolinewills03

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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