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  • Writer's pictureAna Kalliavas

Another Turn for the Tar Heels

Since 2018, the North Carolina Nine Tar Heels have been racking up D1 field hockey championship wins- with the exception of 2021, when the Northwestern Wildcats finished with a lead of 2-0. This year, the two teams faced each other once more- and the Wildcats were left wanting.

This season brought in a new coach for the Tar Heels. Karen Shelton represented the team through 42 seasons and 10 national titles. With a sizable repertoire under her belt, she officially passed the reigns to 24 year old Erin Matson- four time national champion, NC’s all time leading scorer, and now, the youngest D1 coach to win a championship. Her incredible talent, paired with her bond to the team, is what lead these girls to one of the Tar Heels most exciting wins.

As with many low scoring games, ties are inevitable- and by the last quarter the Heels and Wildcats were tied, 1-1. When this happens in a championship, overtime is required. These teams, almost completely evenly matched, needed not one, but two overtimes. As the second overtime passed with no change, they had to do something rarely seen- a shoot out.

Each team chooses five players, and each player gets one shot on goal; player vs. goalie. As shot after shot was blocked the Tar Heels pulled through- Annabel Skubisz sent a chip into the right side of goal when the goalies back was turned.

Erin Matson could not be prouder of this nail biting win. Not only is it a momentous achievement for the team, their success marks a change for field hockey as a whole. When asked her opinion, Matson comments “We’ve told these guys they’ve completely changed the game. You see more people turning on a field hockey game when they’re out at a restaurant or at a bar and you see hockey, you’re like ‘That’s not normal’. You see sold-out in the same sentence as field hockey games. That also has not been normal.” Girls like these, who put their all into a sport, who work day in and day out, are seeing it pay off. Field Hockey isn’t a sport that many flock to see, but its popularity has been on the rise. All these teams, not just the Tarheels, deserve the praise they’re finally getting.

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