The No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team flexed its muscle in the second quarter of Friday’s match with No. 5 Virginia, scoring three goals in under four minutes to pull away from the Cavaliers.
UNC (8-0, 2-0 ACC) ultimately went on to win 5-0 in a game that felt more competitive than the final score indicated.
“I think that the outcome doesn’t really reflect the game necessarily,” Virginia senior Erin Shanahan said. “Looking at the scoreboard, you can see that we had more corners, we had pretty equal shots. I think they just capitalized on their opportunities more than we did.”
Neither team wasted any time getting into the match. The first quarter featured crisp passing, tight defense and three penalty corners for Virginia (7-2, 1-1 ACC).
After starting slowly earlier in the week against James Madison, UVa had no such troubles against North Carolina. The Cavaliers were on the attack for most of the opening quarter, firing five shots while the Tar Heels weren’t able to record any. The UNC defense hung tough, keeping UVa scoreless.
The second quarter was a different story.
UNC’s offense came alive, as the Tar Heels recorded nine shots and turned three of those chances into goals. Catherine Hayden scored the first goal with 8:52 left in the second quarter. Yentl Leemans followed with her first goal of the season 58 seconds later. Nearly three minutes later, Erin Matson used a slick no-look pass to find an open Marissa Creatore, who easily buried the shot to give UNC a 3-0 lead.
Virginia redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Hausheer made a diving save on a penalty corner later in the second period to keep the deficit at 3-0.
Her save helped halt UNC’s momentum heading into the break, but a 3-0 halftime lead was plenty for a North Carolina team that only allows an average of one goal per match. Hausheer finished the match with four saves for UVa.
Despite posting 15 shots to UNC’s 16 and earning nine corners to the Tar Heels’ four, Virginia lost by five. It was North Carolina’s ability to capitalize on scoring opportunities that helped the nation’s top-ranked team turn a competitive match into a blowout victory.
“The story was in both circles,” Virginia coach Michele Madison said. “They were efficient and put it away, and we didn’t.”
UVa’s defense, which had recorded shutouts in each of its past three games, had its hands full with one of the most potent offenses in the country. Coming into the match, North Carolina scored 22 goals in its previous four matches. The Tar Heels have scored at least four goals in seven of their eight matches this season.
Outside of the four-minute stretch when UNC scored three goals, Virginia’s defense played well against consistent UNC pressure. Sophomore back Amber Ezechiels stood out, especially in the first 15 minutes. She was aggressive and helped UVa maintain possession for much of the first quarter.
UNC recorded its fourth goal a few minutes into the fourth quarter when Hayden added her second goal of the evening. Matson got in on the scoring action with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, putting a rebound into the goal to give UNC a commanding 5-0 lead.
Up next, Virginia travels to Farmville to play Longwood (4-3) on Sunday.