DURHAM, N.C. – Junior Ashley Hoffman's overtime goal gave seventh-ranked North Carolina field hockey a 2-1 win over No. 10 Boston College Saturday afternoon at Duke's Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium. The Tar Heels improved to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a victory in their first overtime contest of the season. BC fell to 5-2 (0-2 ACC).
Here's your game-winner! Ashley Hoffman's goal gives the Tar Heels their first ACC win of the season pic.twitter.com/8SDOCmRL6Q— UNC Field Hockey (@UNCFieldHockey) September 16, 2017
Saturday's ACC matchup was the first "home" game of the season for UNC, which is playing at Duke's field this season while its own on-campus facility is under construction. The Tar Heels practice in Durham twice a week and scrimmaged Duke during the preseason, but Saturday marked the first time they'd hosted another opponent at Williams Field.
"We're thrilled to come away with a win in the first overtime game of the season, and I'm proud of our team," UNC coach Karen Shelton said. "Credit to Boston College – in the first half I thought we could have scored one or two more to make the game not quite so close, but they're a scrappy, hard-working team and they made it close."
UNC led through most of the game after freshman Eva Smolenaars scored the first goal of her Carolina career just 3:03 into the contest. She carried the ball into the circle, "and then I thought to myself, 'Just shoot it,' and I did and it went through the legs of the keeper," Smolenaars said. "I was very happy because I knew my parents were watching back home in the Netherlands. Knowing they were watching and my grandparents were watching was a great feeling."
Her unassisted goal put UNC up 1-0. The Tar Heels were unable to extend the lead, despite outshooting the Eagles 11-1 in the first half. BC junior Alyssa Olenick played a major role in that, with two defensive saves before halftime.
With 9:10 remaining in regulation, Eagles midfielder Ymke Rose Gote tied it up for her team with her first goal of the fall. Both teams had opportunities down the stretch, but the score remained knotted at 1-1 as time ran out in regulation
"Credit to our kids for not losing composure," Shelton said. "I thought at times we looked a little unorganized, fatigued and careless with the ball, but we were able to hang on and get to overtime."
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Boston College had played – and won – two double-overtime games this fall, but the seven-on-seven extra period was a first for this year's Tar Heels, who played like they'd been here before. "I thought we handled overtime well," said Shelton, whose team outshot BC 6-0 in the extra period.
That sixth shot came 8:25 into overtime, on the Tar Heels' third penalty corner of the period. UNC went with a give-and-go from junior Eva van't Hoog to Hoffman, who leads the team in goals. "In overtime there aren't as many people back there and if you can eliminate one you're usually going to have somebody free," Shelton said. "Eva has the ability to eliminate and then she found Ashley wide open in front of the goal."
"Eva could have taken the shot but she gave me a perfect pass and made my job easy," Hoffman said. "All I had to do was knock it in."
UNC is back in action on Sunday, hosting No. 13 James Madison at 3 p.m. ET.