Carolina’s field hockey team is perfect again.
The top-ranked Tar Heels beat No. 9 Princeton Sunday at Wake Forest’s Kentner Stadium to win the program’s eighth national championship and complete a second consecutive undefeated season. This year’s team finished the year 23-0, and Carolina has now won 46 games in a row.
Sophomore Erin Matson was named the Most Outstanding Player, and she was joined on the All-NCAA Tournament by senior Yentl Leemans and juniors Amanda Hendry and Eva Smolenaars.
Carolina fell behind early, as Princeton scored just 2:13 into the game. It was the third game in a row in which the Tar Heels have trailed 1-0.
The Tar Heels’ first two goals, to tie and take the lead, came on second chances. The first, by senior forward Marissa Creatore, came just before the end of the first quarter. After her first shot was saved, Creatore, a team captain from Chapel Hill, gathered the rebound and put it back for the tying goal.
The next, on Carolina’s second corner of the game, came after Princeton goalie Grace Baylis saved a shot by Matson. The ball bounced out and Smolenaars was able to backhand it into the cage for Carolina’s first lead of the game, in the 22nd minute.
The Tar Heels carried that 2-1 lead into halftime, but added four more, two each in the third and fourth quarters. Just over three minutes after halftime, Matson scored the first of back-to-back goals, on a reverse after she got a pass from Smolenaars.
In the 43rd minute, Matson scored again, on a pass into the circle from freshman Karlijn Goes.
Smolenaars scored her second goal of the game in the 50th minute. Sophomore Hannah Griggs added a final goal with just under three minutes to play to make it 6-1.
It marks the third occasion that a team has gone back-to-back with undefeated seasons. Old Dominion University was the first and has done so on two occasions, in 1983 and 1984, and then in 1991 and 1992.
Carolina’s eighth title came on the same field where the Tar Heels won their sixth, in 2009.