The top-ranked North Carolina field hockey team ended the season Friday afternoon with a 3-2 loss to No. 4 Syracuse in an NCAA semifinal game.
For the second year in a row, UNC was eliminated in a penalty shootout. North Carolina finished the season 19-4, while Syracuse improved to 18-5 and advances to its first NCAA championship game. The Orange will meet Connecticut, a 1-0 winner over Albany, on Sunday for the championship.
“Congratulations to Syracuse,” UNC coach Karen Shelton said. “I thought that was a tough game by two really good teams.
The Tar Heels got on the board first, on a penalty corner in the 16th minute. Emma Bozek deflected Nina Notman’s shot into the cage to put her team up 1-0.
Syracuse answered two minutes before halftime. UNC goalkeeper Shannon Johnson saved Emma Russell’s first shot, but the Orange junior gathered the rebound and shot again to tie the game at 1.
Although the shots would be even by the end of the game, the Orange outshot the Tar Heels 8-2 in the first half. “I’m proud of Shannon Johnson, our goalkeeper,” Shelton said. “I think she kept us in it today, especially in the first half.”
SU took the lead in the 48th minute. Junior Alyssa Manley sent a ball to the far post where freshman Lieke Visser tipped it in and put the Orange up 2-1.
With 9:24 remaining in regulation, UNC called a timeout and Shelton pulled her goalkeeper in favor of an extra field player. The gamble paid off, as the Tar Heels drew a penalty corner and scored off it four minutes later.
Carolina put Johnson back in goal, and the teams played the last five minutes of the game without a score.
In the first round of the shootout, each team made three goals. Because the tie still hadn’t been broken, the game went to sudden victory with alternating shots. Syracuse’s Manley made her attempt first, and Wold’s shot was saved, putting SU ahead for the win.