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Leah Howard | Michigan Athletics | August 27, 2021

No. 2 Michigan field hockey beats No. 1 North Carolina to open 2021 season

Brian Ray | Iowa Athletics No. 2 Michigan takes down No. 1 UNC in Iowa City. No. 2 Michigan upset No. 1 North Carolina to open the 2021 season.
The No. 2-ranked University of Michigan field hockey team built its lead with a pair of goals over the first half and held on in the second to edge No. 1 North Carolina 3-2 in its season opener at the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Friday afternoon (Aug. 27) at Iowa's Grant Field.

The game pitted the nation's top-ranked programs in a rematch of the 2020 NCAA championship game, which UNC claimed 4-3 in overtime. The Wolverines' win today was their third over top-ranked North Carolina in a season opener since 2016.

It was freshman Alana Richardson who tallied the first official Maize and Blue goal of the 2021 campaign — and her collegiate career — at the 13:59 mark late in the first quarter. Senior Tina D'Anjolell carried the ball into the circle from the right, banked a shot off the UNC goalkeeper and it kicked out into open space on the left side of the circle. Richardson laid out to roof a reverse shot to the top of the cage and give U-M the first lead.

SCOREBOARD: Follow along with scores all season long

D'Anjolell tacked on one of her own in the second quarter, at 24:15, when she picked a rebound off the Carolina goalkeeper's pads, muscled her way through a defender on her way to the right post and knocked it into the near-side corner to give Michigan a 2-0 advantage.

UNC scored twice in the fourth quarter, including one from the top of the circle just 39 seconds in, but the Wolverines added an open-cage goal — after Carolina pulled its goalkeeper with 11:50 remaining — to stay out front. Junior Sarah Pyrtek tallied the third Michigan goal at 49:36, taking a pass up and into the circle from junior Nina Apoola and finding space between two converging Tar Heels to rip a reverse chip into goal.

North Carolina outshot the Wolverines 11-7 and outcornered them 4-1. Senior goalkeeper Anna Spieker posted two saves in the Michigan cage, while UNC's Abigail Taylor tallied one.

Michigan will wrap up the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against No. 11 Wake Forest at 1 p.m. CDT on Sunday (Aug. 29) at Iowa's Grant Field.

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