The North Carolina field hockey team capped a dominant season with a shutout win Sunday afternoon, claiming the 2018 NCAA Championship with a 2-0 victory against second-ranked Maryland. The Tar Heels, ranked No. 1 since the second week of the season, finished the fall 23-0, becoming the third team in program history to finish undefeated.
The championship is the seventh for Carolina, all under coach Karen Shelton, who completed her 38th season at the Tar Heel helm with Sunday’s win.
“For me, and I think I can speak for everyone, it’s definitely a dream come true,” said Carolina senior Ashley Hoffman, who was named the NCAA Championship MVP. “It’s something you aspire to do from the minute you decide to play college field hockey. It’s the highest award you can receive in this country at the collegiate level. It is such an honor to play for Coach Shelton and to win this with this team.
“Every day at practice, we have fun together, we work hard together and I think it showed out there. It was so much fun to win with this team.”
Junior Megan DuVernois scored the gamewinner in the 21st minute of play. On a breakaway, freshman Erin Matson carried the ball down the left sideline and passed to sophomore Meredith Sholder, who one-touched a pass from the top of the circle to the front of the cage, where DuVernois tipped it over the Maryland keeper, Sarah Holliday.
The Tar Heels added another goal in the 31st minute. Matson carried the ball into the circle and fired a shot at Holliday, who made the save but Matson grabbed the rebound and got her second-effort past the keeper and into the cage for a 2-0 lead.
Maryland managed nine shots in the second half after none in the first half, but Carolina goalkeeper Amanda Hendry tied her season high with five saves and senior defender Morgan Goetz added a defensive save to keep the Terrapins off the scoreboard.
“It wasn’t a pretty game, particularly the second half,” Shelton said. “I think Amanda Hendry played awesome. We haven’t had a goalkeeper play as well in a Final Four in a long time. She helped get the shutout today and secure the win in the second half.”
The Tar Heels’ previous titles came in 1989, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2007 and 2009. The 1995 and 2007 teams also finished undefeated.
Hoffman was joined on the All-NCAA Tournament team by Hendry, Matson and senior midfielder Eva van’t Hoog.
It was the final game in a Tar Heel uniform for Hoffman, van’t Hoog, Goetz, midfielder Malin Evert, forward Leila Evans and goalkeeper Mary Kathryn Harrah. The team’s record over the last four years is 82-14, with three ACC Tournament trophies in addition to the prize they won on Sunday.
“I couldn’t be happier for the Tar Heels, and specifically our seniors that led the way all season,” Shelton said. “I felt every game they worked hard to earn the win. They never looked past a team, they never slacked off in practice. They’re a very motivated team, a very high I.Q. in terms of understanding how we want to play the game. I’m so impressed by the maturity of this team. We’ve gone undefeated before, but I think this team is super special to coach. It’s been an honor and privilege for me to work with this particular group. They’ve been just fantastic from the opening day of preseason to the national championship game.”
Visit GoHeels.com to read more and to watch highlights of the game.