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‘That’s the Carolina way’: No. 1 UNC hockey beats Duke to end season undefeated at home

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North Carolina’s No. 1 hockey team hosted No. 15 Duke for Senior Day on Friday in a challenging double overtime game, with a 4-3 victory the Carolina way.

While the statistics may have pointed to a clear winner before the games’ passback began, Tobacco Road’s rivalry provided that added competitive edge as both teams fought through two overtime to determine a winner.

After two matchups against the Blue Devils in October, the Tar Heels knew exactly who to compete against.

They always say you throw out the record books when playing Duke Carolina, and you definitely did today, said head coach Karen Shelton. All over town it was everything you could wish for.

On the chilly Friday afternoon, 225 fans attended the game to cheer for UNC among the biggest crowd the team has seen all season. With home advantage, the Tar Heels played their standard offensive-driven first period, with junior Erin Matson scoring North Carolina’s first goal on free possession.

At the time, Matson was the only Tar Heel to score a goal in the spring season. Then came the second quarter.

Duke controlled the pace of the game as Blue Devil fired Libby Thompson from the perimeter of the circle to score the ball the first goal the Tar Heels allowed all spring. Duke got two penalty corners later in the period and took advantage of the second to steal the lead and went up 2-1 at the half.

Shelton knew she had to change the story of the game after Dukes scored two unanswered goals.

I told them I was disappointed with the way we played, Shelton said. I thought Duke outwitted us with passion, hard work and intensity.

As they entered the third, the Tar Heels realized they needed more than just Matsons shots to win. Redshirt junior back Cassie Sumfest took the initiative and shot the ball into a penalty corner to balance the score. UNC then regained the lead with a goal that was sunk by sophomore midfielder Paityn Wirth.

Just a minute later, Duke reacted to tie the score, 3-3, on his way to fourth.

The last period of regulation saw stellar defenses on both sides of the field. UNC got nine shots on goal in the period, all of which were blocked by Dukes goalkeeper, Piper Hampsch, who had an excellent 19 saves in the match. Keeping the ball in Tar Heel’s possession, no Blue Devil had shot the entire quarter at goal.

We were just focused on communication, they didn’t give them another chance, and we kept them out of our 25 before they even joined our circle, said Courtnie Williamson, graduate. I think we all knew we had to do more, get rowdy, get up front and intercept those balls before they could reach it.

The clock was ticking to end regulations on a stalled score, causing the rivals to work overtime.

After a stalemate in the first overtime, the teams entered their second overtime, the most minutes this season. In the 77th minute, senior forward Bryn Boylan suffered a foul in the circle and a penalty stroke.

And on Senior Night, the senior fired the game-winning shot past Hampsch to end the game with a victory in North Carolina, 4-3.

Coach always says play the Carolina way: hard, smart, together, Boylan said. And I think we really did and that’s why we came out on top.

By completing a perfect 10-0 record at home with a win over their rivals, the Tar Heels honored their outgoing seniors in the best possible way.

That’s a classic Carolina move to just keep playing over twice. I’m so proud of everyone, they definitely worked their butts off, Williamson said. That’s the Carolina way.

@RTLnews [email protected]

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