CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Sophomore Malin Evert scored in the 90th minute of play Friday night to lift the fifth-ranked North Carolina field hockey team to a double-overtime win, 3-2 over No. 1 Syracuse in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup at Francs E. Henry Stadium.
The Tar Heels improved to 7-2 overall, 2-1 in ACC play. Syracuse is now 7-1, 2-1 ACC.
“I’m really proud of our team,” UNC coach Karen Shelton said. “I thought it was a great effort by everybody out there and a gutsy performance."
It was the first goal this season for Evert, who picked up a turnover and carried the ball into the circle before sending a hard shot past Syracuse keeper Regan Spencer, who made 12 saves in the game. Overall, UNC outshot the Orange 25-10.
Syracuse took the lead in the 29th minute of play when Serra Degnan’s shot dribbled into the left side of the cage. The Tar Heels scored just before halftime, on their second penalty corner of the period. Junior Gab Major inserted the ball, sophomore Eva van’t Hoog stopped it, and senior Lauren Moyer sent her shot to the boards to tie the score at 1-1 heading into halftime.
The Orange again moved ahead in the 48th minute, when Jennifer Bleakney scored from the right side after a series of passes, which ended with an assist from Emma Lamison. Just over two minutes later Moyer tied the game again on a pass from Evert, with a shot into the right side of the cage from the left.The Tar Heels drew a late penalty corner and took it with no time remaining in regulation, but Moyer’s shot went wide and UNC headed into its first overtime of the fall. Neither team scored in the first 15-minute, seven-on-seven period. In the second OT, the Tar Heels earned six shots, including the Evert’s gamewinner.
“To go into the second overtime and find a way to win it was really nice for our kids,” Shelton said. “We’ve lost a couple this year and I think we had some soul-searching. So to win this game is a huge morale booster for our team. They now know they belong with the elite in the country and I think we needed to prove that to ourselves.”
UNC and Syracuse met in both the ACC and NCAA Championship games in 2015, with the Tar Heels winning the conference title and the Orange the national one.
Friday night’s crowd of 715 was the biggest at Henry Stadium this fall. “We love playing here,” Shelton said. “The crowd was brilliant and loud and effective – that helps you, makes you dig just a little bit deeper. I’m proud of our group and proud of our fans.”