The No. 1 UNC field hockey team shut out No. 4 Virginia in a 2-0 match to advance to its second straight NCAA title game appearance and its fifth in the last six years.
UNC's Paityn Wirth and Ryleigh Heck both stood out in the matchup, as Wirth earned an assist and Heck tallied a goal. Sietske Brüning was also a key player for UNC, as she scored UNC's second goal and maintained a strong defensive front.
The North Carolina defense shut down penalty corner chances and only allowed Virginia two shots on goal in the entire 60 minutes. UNC’s depth on both sides of the ball will be crucial in the national title game.
On Friday, the Cavaliers dominated the first frame, controlling possession and earning the first penalty corner of the game within the first three minutes. After an unsuccessful attempt, the Cavaliers earned a second penalty corner. Both attempts ended with a save from UNC graduate goalie Maddie Khan to keep the score knotted at zero.
North Carolina quickly got on the board in its first true offensive possession. Wirth passed the ball to Heck on the baseline who dished it past the right side of the Cavalier goalie to put the Tar Heels in front 1-0.
“I think the goal started from the defense to the attack,” Heck said. “I think it was a team goal and I just happened to be able to finish it."
Virginia continued to control possession, but none of its three shot attempts were successful and UNC ended the first quarter with a 1-goal advantage.
Notably, North Carolina earned zero penalty corner attempts in the first quarter after earning seven in the first quarter against Harvard in the second round of the tournament.
That did not last long.