Field hockey: No. 7 Virginia tops No. 5 North Carolina for ACC title
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Virginia field hockey team (15-7, 3-3 ACC) defeated North Carolina (17-5, 3-3 ACC) 4-2 in the 2016 ACC Field Hockey Championship Game at Wake Forest’s Kentner Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The title is the first in program history for Virginia, the conference’s automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament. The sixth-seeded Cavaliers become the lowest-seeded team to win the tournament in the event’s history.
“It’s amazing to see their smiles and their tears of joy and you really see how much it means to them,” said Virginia head coach Michele Madison. "To see the hard work and sacrifice to build the belief, because it’s hard to have the belief when you’ve never done it before. They found it somewhere deep inside to believe everything was possible.”
After being held without a shot for over eight minutes early in the first half, freshman Erin Shanahan found the back of the cage to open the scoring. The fourth goal of the season for the freshman striker came off a corner.
With just over 12 minutes remaining before halftime, Gab Major grabbed a loose ball in the circle and fired it past sophomore Carrera Lucas for her ninth of the year to equalize the game at 1-1.
Sophomore Izzy McDonough regained the lead for the Cavaliers four minutes later for her third of the season.
Anzel Viljoen, who did not score a goal during the regular season, scored her second of the tournament to extend the Cavalier lead early in the second half. The freshman inserted a corner to junior Tara Vittese at the top of the circle, slid towards the goal and knocked in the pass back from Vittese to push it to a 3-1 Virginia lead.
Lauren Moyer brought the Tar Heels back within one with just under 10 minutes remaining. After North Carolina pulled goalkeeper Alex Halpin in favor of a kicking back, Moyer launched a shot from the top of the circle after a penalty corner and off of a Virginia defender into the goal. The score was her fourth of the tournament and 21st of the year.
Just over two minutes later, senior Lucy Hyams provided insurance for the Cavaliers when she scored on a pass from Vittese after a penalty corner to push the lead to 4-2.
Lucas made six saves in the win, while Halpin stopped three for the Tar Heels.
Virginia scored a tournament-record 13 goals over three games played, surpassing the previous record of 10.
Senior Caleigh Foust was named tournament MVP after scoring three goals, including the game winners against Boston College and Wake Forest.
The NCAA selection show will stream live online on NCAA.com on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET. This will be the Cavaliers’ 21st appearance in the NCAA tournament and their ninth in head coach Michele Madison’s 11 seasons.
2016 ACC Field Hockey All-Tournament Team
- Sammi Steele, Duke
- Margaux Paolino, Duke
- Lauren Moyer, North Carolina
- Ashley Hoffman, North Carolina
- Julia Young, North Carolina
- Caleigh Foust, Virginia (MVP)
- Lucy Hyams, Virginia
- Dominique van Slooten, Virginia
- Tara Vittese, Virginia
- Jule Grashoff, Wake Forest
- Nicola Pluta, Wake Forest