North Carolina made a second-half comeback but ultimately fell short in its quest for the seventh NCAA field hockey championship in program history, losing 4-2 to Syracuse on Sunday in the national title game at the University of Michigan. The Tar Heels, ranked No. 1 in the nation and seeded No. 2, finished their season 21-3. The Orange (21-1) won its first NCAA crown.
“I’d like to congratulate Syracuse on winning the national championship,” UNC coach Karen Shelton said.
The Orange jumped out ahead, scoring twice in the first half. In the ninth minute, Emma Russell scored on a shot from the left side of the cage on a pass from Liz Sack. In the 18th minute the Orange added another when Alma Fenne carried the ball into the circle and reversed a shot into the right side of the cage.
Just over two minutes into the second half, UNC’s Nina Notman sent a pass into the circle to Malin Evert, who aimed it to the right side of the cage, where Gab Major deflected it in to pull UNC within one.
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In the 56th minute, the Tar Heels tied the game. Casey Di Nardo sent the ball out from the right baseline to Evert, who was positioned in mid-circle. The freshman forward sent high shot just inside the left post to even the game at 2.
In the 59th minute, the Orange scored on a penalty corner, its only one of the second half, to pull ahead again. Zoe Wilson scored the goal on an assist from Lies Lagerweij.
With nine minutes remaining, Shelton pulled goalkeeper Shannon Johnson in favor of another field player, forward Sam Night. With an open cage, Syracuse got behind the UNC defense and scored again with Emma Lamison on the goal and Russell adding the assist.