One of the more impressive streaks in all of college sports continued on Sunday afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the sixth-ranked UNC field hockey team defeated No. 11 Princeton 3-2 to advance to its ninth consective NCAA Final Four–and 22nd in program history.
It was a hard-fought back-and-forth affair that saw the teams alternate goals until time finally ran out.
Eva Van’t Hoog scored in the 19th minute to put the Tar Heels ahead, but Princeton responded right before the halftime whistle to even things up at the break.
In the second half, UNC (18-4) took the lead back just minutes after play resumed, when Eva Smolenaars found the back of the net.
Again, though, Princeton (12-7) had a response. The Tigers tied things up with a 49th-minute goal from Maddie Bacskai coming off of a deflection and appeared to be giving the Tar Heels all they could handle.
Not long after, a pass from Marissa Creatore in the 53rd minute found Megan DuVernois–who then put UNC back ahead for good.
Princeton stayed on the attack until the very end, though, with the referees awarding the Tigers three penalty corner attempts despite the clock reading triple zeroes.
The UNC defense blocked each of Princeton’s shot attempts during the frenetic finish, however, sealing the historic victory.
“They kept it close – every time we punched, they counterpunched,” UNC head coach Karen Shelton said afterwards, about her opponents. “They made us earn every ball we handled. It was a fantastic game and I just couldn’t be happier that we’re going back to Louisville.”
Now the Tar Heels will return to Louisville–the scene of their recent ACC Tournament Championship–as they look to accomplish their ultimate goal. UNC is scheduled to face top-seeded Connecticut in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 17.
Photo via Jeffrey A. Camarati (UNC Athletics)