Field Hockey Falls to North Carolina in ACC Semifinals
By: Skyler Wilkes | @swilkes04
CitrusTV Field Hockey Beat Reporter
DURHAM, N.C. – Fifth-seeded Syracuse had a chance to do the unthinkable this afternoon against No. 1 North Carolina. The Tar Heels were undefeated, led in the nation in just about every statistical category and had won five straight ACC titles. For SU, it was a chance to end its seven year conference championship drought.
Things looked promising early on when UNC goalie Kylie Walbert got displaced after making a stop. Joy Haarman fired with a near wide open cage, but was blocked by Sietske Brüning who stood in goal and recorded the defensive save. The Heels then went on the attack, generating two corners and two shots. Nonetheless, the quarter ended in a scoreless tie.
North Carolina dominated possession in the second. The Tar Heels had a constant presence in the shooting circle and induced a lot of stress upon the ‘Cuse defense. However, neither team was able to break through and the game went into halftime even at zero. It was just the third time all year that UNC was shut out in a half. Meanwhile, it was the fifth time in six games for Syracuse.
Everything changed three minutes into the third. The Heels had a corner, which led to three tries on net. The last one hit the foot of Eefke van den Nieuwenhof, resulting in a penalty stroke. To no surprise, five-time All American Erin Matson converted it. The rest of the period was uneventful, but it’s important to note that SU went its second straight frame without a shot.
Less than 60 seconds into the fourth, Ryleigh Heck put her stick out on a slapshot from Brüning and the ball ricocheted off of it. This gave North Carolina a decisive 2-0 lead. The Orange didn’t give up though and got on the board a little later when Joy Haarman slapped in a long pass from Charlotte de Vries.
The ‘Cuse then went into high gear trying to get back into the game. With three minutes left, Ange Bradley pulled Brooke Borzymowski from goal to add an extra attacker. The plan was mostly unsuccessful, except for a last-ditch effort by Quirine Comans. There were under thirty seconds remaining when the grad student raced down the field and got a good look on net but missed wide left.
When it was all said and done, UNC came out on top 2-1 to advance to its eighth straight ACC Championship. Despite the win, the Tar Heels were held to their lowest goal total of the season. As a matter of fact, Syracuse allowed four less goals than in their previous meeting back on October 14th. The Orange drop to 15-5 and now wait to see who they play in next week’s NCAA Tournament.