Syracuse field hockey falls to North Carolina 4-1 in ACC semifinals
Syracuse field hockey falls to UNC in ACC semifinals
No. 2 seed Syracuse lost to No. 3 seed North Carolina, 4-1, in the semifinals of the ACC field hockey tournament on Thursday.
The Orange bested the three-time defending national champion Tar Heels 5-0 on Oct. 1, but North Carolina flipped the outcome in the rematch.
“I think we came out a little tight,” Syracuse head coach Ange Bradley said. “The first half we were not the best versions of ourselves. It’s a hard lesson for us to learn.”
The first quarter was scoreless, as neither team generated many shots on net. Less than a minute into the second quarter, Syracuse turned the ball over in their own zone, leading to North Carolina drawing a penalty stroke attempt.
Erin Matson scored on the penalty, giving the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead. Matson is the ACC’s all-time leading goal scorer, and leads the nation this season in goals and points.
Following a Syracuse green card violation, the Orange were down a player for two minutes. North Carolina took advantage with another goal from Matson with five minutes left to go in the second.
Matson completed her hat trick a couple of minutes later after her third goal was reviewed and upheld. The Tar Heels took that 3-0 lead into the half.
“We dribbled the ball a bit too much in the first half and we weren’t working together,” Bradley said. “We were trying to work alone.”
Syracuse ramped up the pressure in the third quarter with five penalty corner opportunities but were unable to convert any of them into goals. The score stayed at 3-0 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Syracuse picked up a yellow card, which meant playing at a disadvantage for five minutes. North Carolina once again made the most of that opportunity, putting the game away with a goal by Hannah Griggs.
The Orange kept pushing offensively in the fourth but struggled to break the Tar Heels’ defense. Finally, Eefke van den Nieuwenhof prevented Syracuse from being shut out by scoring with two minutes left to make the final score 4-1.
“A lot of (North Carolina’s) plan seemed to be to break us down and break the speed,” Bradley said. “That type of pressure I think made us a little bit like ‘whoa’ as opposed to ‘go.'”
North Carolina’s defense was led by goalkeeper Abigail Taylor, who made seven saves to keep Syracuse off the scoreboard until near the end of the match.
The Tar Heels won despite not having head coach Karen Shelton, who was out due to receiving a red card in Thursday’s game against Wake Forest.
North Carolina will face fifth seed Virginia on Sunday for the ACC Championship. Virginia upset top seed Louisville with a 2-1 shootout victory on Friday. Bradley believes her team needs to play like the second-half version of themselves going forward.
“If we get another opportunity, then we’re going to make sure we’re doing that for four quarters and in overtime, whatever it may take,” Bradley said. “But we will bring that version of ourselves for sure.”
The Orange will now look to be of the 18 teams picked for the NCAA Tournament. The Division I field hockey selection show can be viewed on NCAA.org on Sunday at 10 p.m.