NCAA field hockey: Michigan stuns No. 1 UNC in opener for second straight year
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The No. 11-ranked Michigan field hockey team surged early in the second half and used a late-game defensive stand to knock off No. 1 North Carolina 3-2 in its season opener at the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Saturday afternoon at Iowa's Grant Field.
It was Michigan's second straight season-opening win over the top-ranked Tar Heels in as many seasons.
Michigan scored twice in the opening 1:01 of the second half to break open the scoreless contest, including one just 11 seconds into the frame on sophomore Meg Dowthwaite's reverse chip from the arc to the lower right corner of the UNC cage that gave the Wolverines the first and final lead. Graduate student Esther de Leijer followed just 50 seconds later, at 36:11, corralling a rebound — after sophomore Guadalupe Fernandez Lacort's initial shot was stopped and kicked out to the top of the circle — and firing it past Tar Heel goalkeeper Amanda Hendry.
The Wolverines struck again eight minutes later, at 44:25, when graduate student Carly Bennett banged a shot off a UNC defender and into the cage. Junior Marleise Emrhein carried the ball into the North Carolina defensive 25 and fed it to the right corner, where Bennett picked it up, dribbled into the circle and fired it to the middle.
North Carolina, who outshot the Wolverines 23-5 and outcornered them 14-1, poured it on over the final 20 minutes, pulling its goalkeeper for an extra attacker and pulling within just one goal after scoring twice within a four-minute window. After the latter goal — off the penalty corner — with 13:53 remaining in the contest, Michigan turned away five more corner chances and overturned another on referral to maintain its lead.
Senior goalkeeper Sam Swenson earned nine saves in a spectacular effort in the Wolverine cage.
Michigan will wrap up the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against No. 15 Wake Forest at 12:30 a.m. ET on Sunday at Iowa's Grant Field.