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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC field hockey team takes down No. 13 Syracuse on the road, 4-1

20230820_Peng_FHockey vs. Duke
UNC senior midfielder/back and team captain Katie Dixon (14) sweeps a ball during the exhibition field hockey match against Duke at Karen Shelton Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. UNC won 5-3.

On Friday, The No. 3 North Carolina field hockey team (10-2, 4-0 ACC) got back into the win column with a 4-1 road victory over No. 13 Syracuse (9-4, 1-3 ACC). 

Pressure from the Syracuse defense seemed to hold the Tar Heels back in the waking moments of the game. However, after a 15-minute warm-up of a first quarter, North Carolina left no room for an Orange wall to block its way to victory.

“The staff, you know, it's all about being on the same page, having a good game plan and putting the team in situations during the week that set them up for success in the weekend,” head coach Erin Matson said.

Senior forward Paityn Wirth would take the first and only Tar Heel shot of the first quarter met by the stick of Syracuse junior goalkeeper Brooke Borzymowski. Seemingly a result of the pressure from the top-15 showdown, the first quarter concluded scoreless.

“I think after the first quarter, it was the feeling of ‘okay that’s fine, we generated some, and controlled the chances they generated’ but of course, we are not a team that’s like ‘let's hang on until the fourth quarter,” Matson said. “It’s [more of] ‘let’s set the tone, the tempo, and capitalize and put the game away.’”

Syracuse entered the second frame with a more aggressive offense, but not enough to stop the gas of North Carolina. The Orange accumulated two penalty corners and two shots in the first minute of play, forcing the Tar Heels to simulate this energy. In the 19th minute, North Carolina would take the 1-0 lead after a hasty goal from the freshman forward Charly Bruder, assisted by senior back Romea Riccardo and graduate midfielder Pluen Lammers. 

Keeping the Syracuse defense clamped would allow North Carolina to get back into its dominant groove. Following a 25th-minute penalty stroke, Sanne Hak would graze the bottom of the net, capitalizing on the crucial goal. This goal – the second from a UNC first-year this game – would make the score 2-0, in North Carolina’s favor. 

Midway through the third quarter, sophomore forward Ryleigh Heck made a run spanning the field in which she split two Orange defenders and snuck the ball through the legs of Borzymowski. This goal would give the Tar Heels their third point of the game and first of the second half. 

After the successful North Carolina goal, the Orange were given their third penalty corner of the match taken by junior midfielder Willemjin Boogert who couldn't cut the 3-0 deficit.

The final minutes of play were kicked off with yet another aggressive Tar Heel goal by senior midfielder Katie Dixon assisted by third-goal contributor Heck. In the final minute of the match, Syracuse was given two penalty corners, which were both unsuccessful. Although a successful penalty stroke goal in the final moments of the game by senior back Eefke van den Nieuwenhof, the Tar Heels would still manage to walk away with a 4-1 victory.

“All week was a little wakeup call of 'Look guys, we’re not going to get where we want to be just by saying it or thinking of it, we have to back it with actions,' Matson said following last week’s loss against Liberty.

The Tar Heels will stay in New York anticipating their matchup against No. 19 Albany at noon on Sunday, October 15.


@dthsports |

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