Parents’ weekend, stunning fall weather, and a heavy weight bout against the best field hockey team in the nation: the stage was set for a thrilling afternoon of field hockey on Friday. In a back and forth, overtime contest that featured four lead changes, the No. 1 UNC Tar Heels were able to escape Newton with a 3-2 victory over the No. 6 BC Eagles.
The top-10 matchup started off slowly as both teams were wary of opening up offensively early on. After a few minutes of probing the BC defense, UNC started to apply more pressure, but the BC defense, led by junior goalkeeper Leah Settipane, was equal to the task every time.
After surviving the first wave of the UNC attack, BC got on the offensive and started responding to the UNC pressure by launching a few dangerous counterattacks. Senior Emma Plasteras spearheaded a few of these BC offensives and found continued success in turning defense into offense throughout the afternoon.
In the 17th minute, after drawing a corner, the BC attack hit pay dirt as sophomore midfielder Emily McCoy netted her fourth goal of the season with a slap shot off a sneaky assist from senior forward Nina Baumberger.
The BC attack continued to press after its first goal, with Baumberger often working the ball into the teeth of the UNC defense to set up opportunities for her teammates. Unfortunately, BC was not able to capitalize on its opportunities, and UNC started to maintain possession and work the ball around the perimeter of the BC defense. The Tar Heels’ efforts were rewarded in the 27th minute when UNC Forward Loren Shealy ripped a shot from the top of the circle to tie the game at 1-1.
The UNC pressure continued until halftime, and if not for a couple spectacular saves by Settipane, her fourth and fifth of the half, the Eagles may have been looking at a halftime deficit. However, BC was able to escape further damage and the score at the half remained 1-1.
BC started the second half aggressively and was able to force two corners in the first five minutes of the second half. The offensive pressure paid off quickly for the Eagles as another corner led to a shot that rebounded right to the waiting forward Leah Frome who was able to sneak the ball into the right corner of the net to give BC a 2-1 lead with 30 minutes to go in its quest to unseat the number one team in the nation. Unfortunately for BC, Frome’s goal turned out to be its last.
The Tar Heels went into attack mode after the BC goal, and quickly forced two corner opportunities—both of which were thwarted by the stout BC defense. The persistence of the UNC attack was rewarded, however, in the 48th minute when Gab Major took a shifty pass from Nina Notman and knocked a reverse-chip shot past the outstretched glove of Settipane to tie the game at 2-2.
With 15 minutes to go, the intensity started to rise as both teams searched for an opportunity to take the lead in the closing moments. UNC was aggressive in its attack until the end, yet the BC defense rose to the occasion time and again. UNC had six penalty corners in the second half, but was unable to find the back of the net, so the game went to overtime.
In overtime, the Tar Heels continued the aggressive pace they closed regulation with, and four minutes into overtime, UNC senior Charlotte Craddock continued her impressive start to the season with a game ending laser shot from the top of the circle, her eighth goal of the season.
Despite the loss, BC head coach Ainslee Lamb was proud of her team’s performance, and sees progress in her program.
“One of the great attributes of this team is that they all want to work hard for each other,” Lamb said.
“We don’t have to step on the field and be perfect to compete with the best in the country. A few years ago we had to have a little more luck on our side, but I feel like we are more in control right now in our ability to win games.”
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor