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No. 4 UNC field hockey takes down No. 2 Duke, 2-1, on senior night

10272023_richards_SPORTS-FHOCKEY-vs-Duke-61.jpg

UNC senior forward Paityn Wirth (10) hits the ball in the Friday, Oct. 27, 2023 game against Duke at the Karen Shelton Stadium.

The No. 4 North Carolina field hockey team closed out its regular season with a 2-1 victory against familiar foe, No. 2 Duke, thanks to senior midfielder Katie Dixon's game-winning goal in the 50th minute.

The Tar Heels now reign as the co-ACC regular season champions alongside the Blue Devils.

“There’s nothing like a Duke [and] Carolina rivalry game, especially in a year where both teams are highly ranked,” head coach Erin Matson said. “We knew they were going to come out with fire and energy like we talked about, but it's why you come to Carolina.”

The top-5 showdown was kicked off with a different energy from North Carolina. The Tar Heels showed aggression from the start, evidenced by their four penalty corners accumulated in the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, Duke dominated possession. However, both teams struggled on offense, leaving the game scoreless at the half as a result of the game’s zero shots on goal.

Duke sophomore forward Alaina McVeigh entered the third quarter contributing to the first shot on goal from either team. This shot though was still not the turning point in putting any points on the board in the quarter.

North Carolina’s lackluster efforts in completing its constant penalty corner opportunities lead to the first match goal by Duke senior midfielder Charlotte van Oirschot. Less than a minute later, however, UNC senior forward Paityn Wirth assisted freshman midfielder Sanne Hak’s tap-in to the net, tying the match 1-1. 

“I just really like to run ahead and I just run on the ball,” Hak said. “I’m not a big fan of being on the far post, but I knew so I just stood there and then it came in front of me, and I thought ‘I’ll just tap it in.’”

The Tar Heels kept momentum and would take the lead with a behind-the-back goal from Dixon in the 50th minute. The remainder of the game consisted of a Blue Devil fight to draw the match. However, the team fell short in this effort and gave North Carolina its last win of the regular season and a successful senior day at Karen Shelton Stadium.

Talking about her goal, Dixon said “Honestly, I was so excited. I was thrilled.” 

“When Charlie threw the ball in the circle, we just focused on getting the ball on [the] cage," she said. "So I was just like, you know what, I’m just going to put it on cage [and] see what happens, and it went in.”

The Tar Heels will now wait to hear from the ACC as it finalizes its decisions regarding postseason matchups. 

@COREYMDAVIS04

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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