On Friday night, Boston College field hockey looked to tie its best start in program history, as the Eagles entered a top-10 matchup against North Carolina. BC had been winning, and winning against ranked teams.
Still, everyone has their kryptonite. The No. 7 Tar Heels (5–3, 1–0 Atlantic Coast) may have a worse record than the No. 5 Eagles (7–2, 0–2) this year, but old habits die hard. BC has lost 15 of its last 16 matchups against North Carolina, and the Tar Heels have won their last seven games straight against BC, including a 2019 Final Four win for the Tar Heels. Despite a tremendous start to their season, the Eagles could not overcome the Tar Heels’ history of dominance and fell to UNC 6–1.
BC’s only other loss this season occurred last Friday, falling 3–1 to Syracuse. In all but one of their wins this year, the Eagles have won by only one goal, showing that despite having a winning record and top-10 national ranking, their games are usually very close.
The Tar Heels took control of the game early on, pressuring BC defenders to get rid of the ball quickly. UNC earned a corner with six minutes remaining in the first quarter, and UNC’s Cassie Sumfest drifted away from the center spot. Sumfest was left open on the side, where she hurled the ball toward the net, allowing teammate Katie Dixon to tip the ball up in the air and past BC netminder Jonna Kennedy for the first score of the game.
The Eagles struggled to connect passes in the first quarter, as the quick Tar Heel defense was one step ahead of them. Early in the second quarter, another UNC corner forced the Eagles to be on the defensive again. A cross-net pass by Erin Matson allowed Jasmina Smolenaars to tip the ball into the back of the net, securing a 2–0 lead for the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels outshot the Eagles 9–2 in the first half, and BC failed to earn a single corner while the Tar Heels amassed a total of four. This uncomfortable deficit appeared to wake up the Eagles, as they suddenly began winning the free balls in the second half and adding offensive pressure.
The Tar Heels’ scoring didn’t stop there, however, as an impressive drive by Paityn Wirth brought the ball into goal-scoring territory. Wirth sent the ball to Hannah Griggs, who fired it past Kennedy’s weak side, bringing the score to 3–0. UNC notched three more in the second half, with Meredith Sholder, Matson, and Lisa Slinkert each finding the net.
BC’s offense, led by Margo Carlin, started to pick up in the fourth quarter. The Eagles earned six corners in the second half, putting pressure on the Tar Heel defense.
Despite a six-goal deficit, the Eagles stayed in the game, focusing on short, crisp passes. Their shots on corners went just wide of the net, as their execution was strong and they left the Tar Heel defenders scrambling for a player to defend.
Featured Image Courtesy of Nicole Wei / Heights Staff