North Carolina wins by one to reclaim the NCAA Division I field hockey title

No. 1 North Carolina downed No. 2 Northwestern 2-1 to capture the 2022 NCAA Division I National Championship, their 10th in program history, capping off a perfect 21-0 season.

Tied at 1-1 with 1:19 left in the regulation, Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) tipped in a shot from Paityn Wirth (Thompsontown, Pa.) for the game-winning goal.

Northwestern had scored a few seconds prior to tie the game at 1-1 but Romea Riccardo (Downingtown, Pa.) sent an aerial ball up to Wirth, who got the reverse shot off, finding Matson for the tip.

North Carolina led 1-0 for most of the contest after Ryleigh Heck (North Beach, N.J.) deflected in a Siestske Bruining (Hague, Netherlands) sweep off a penalty corner in the second quarter.

North Carolina held Northwestern to just two shots, which only came in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats had averaged 18.5 shots per game coming into the contest. Riccardo and Meredith Sholder (Alburtis, Pa.) anchored the North Carolina backfield that limited Northwestern’s opportunities.

Northwestern broke through in the fourth quarter when they earned their first penalty corner of the afternoon with 2:42 left in regulation. Bente Baekers (Rijswijk, Netherlands) tied up the game with 1:58 left in the fourth quarter off the penalty corner, assisted by Kayla Blas (Pendleton, N.Y.)  and Alia Marshall (Rehoboth Beach, De.).

The game didn’t stay tied for long as Matson scored the game-winner a few seconds later. North Carolina outshot Northwestern 15-2 and held a 5-1 advantage in penalty corners.

Northwestern’s Annabel Skubisz (Houston, Texas) made seven saves in the loss, including a save on a penalty stroke by Matson in the first quarter to keep the game scoreless.

North Carolina now leads the NCAA with national titles as they won their fourth title in the past five seasons. Their 21-0 record is the fifth undefeated season in North Carolina program history.

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