CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The top-ranked North Carolina field hockey team protected its home turf in thrilling fashion Friday, scoring three times in the final 5:01 of play to beat fifth-ranked Princeton 4-3 at Karen Shelton Stadium. Senior Marissa Creatore, who grew up in Chapel Hill and came to UNC field hockey games a decade before she'd go on to play for the Tar Heels, scored the game winner on a cross from sophomore Erin Matson with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.
UNC improved to 3-0 on the season with its third come-from-behind win. Princeton fell to 0-1.
"I do want to credit Princeton," UNC coach Karen Shelton said. "What a heck of a game they played and they pushed us to the limit. I'm proud of our team for sticking together and finding a way there at the end."
It was even better in person ... but you get the idea pic.twitter.com/pJM2QnqMks— UNC Field Hockey (@UNCFieldHockey) September 7, 2019
The Carolina-Princeton matchup was part of the ACC-Ivy League Conference Crossover, which continues on Sunday at Shelton Stadium. Princeton faces No. 10 Wake Forest at 11 a.m. then UNC takes on Penn at 1 p.m. Wake beat Penn 2-0 in Friday's opener, with the top-five UNC-Princeton battle following.
The Tigers kept Carolina on its heels through much of the game. Princeton went up 1-0 in the seventh minute of play on a penalty corner, with freshman Sammy Popper scoring off the rebound after UNC keeper Amanda Hendry saved the first Tiger shot. Princeton added another goal in the 22nd minute, with senior Taylor Nolan putting her team up 2-0.
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UNC answered 26 seconds later, when freshman Karlijn Goes scored for the first time in a Tar Heel uniform, assisted by Erin Matson. Coming from the right side of the circle, Matson tapped the ball through a defender to Goes, who shot from mid-circle for the score.
Four minutes before halftime Popper scored again, this time on a penalty corner, to put Princeton back up by two at the break, 3-1.
The score stayed there through the third quarter and into the fourth. Playing without a keeper after UNC coach Karen Shelton pulled Hendry with a little more than 10 minutes to play in an effort to gain an offensive advantage, the Tar Heels came up with a late flurry to win the game. With just over five minutes to play, redshirt freshman Romea Riccardo sent a ball toward Matson at the top of the circle. Matson carried it into the circle toward the baseline then sent a shot from the left side into the right corner of the cage to pull UNC within one, 3-2.
Just over a minute later, Matson got off a a shot that was kept from going into the goal by a defender's body. The umpires awarded Carolina a penalty stroke, and senior Megan DuVernois, who scored the game winner in last year's 1-0 win over Princeton, calmly stepped up and made the shot to tie the score at 3-3 with 3:50 to play.
Hendry went back in and the game appeared headed for overtime until Creatore and Matson combined to give UNC its first lead of the game and the only one the Tar Heels would need. From the left baseline, Matson dribbled around a defender and sent a ball toward the cage, where Creatore got her stick on it to deflect it in for the win.