Field hockey falls to UNC
NEWARK—The magical run for the Delaware field hockey team came to an end in the space of three minutes during Saturday’s NCAA Tournament first-round game at the University of North Carolina Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C. With the score tied 1-1 early in the first half, three quick Tar Heel goals put an end to Delaware’s upset bid.
Head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof said the team played strong for the majority of the game, but the Hens were inconsistent at crucial moments.
“I think we played eight, nine solid rounds of our 12, in which we played great hockey,” van de Kerkhof said. “But I think there were two, maybe three rounds that Carolina took it to us and we had difficulties responding well, and I think that eventually those moments changed the game and made it harder for us to turn things around to the way we wanted them to go.”
The Hens arrived in Chapel Hill on Thursday, having beaten Liberty University 1-0 the day before at Rullo Stadium in a play-in game, breaking the single-season win record for the program with 17 wins. The Tar Heels got their NCAA berth by being No. 3 in the national standings, having fallen to Maryland 2-0 in the ACC Championship Game on Nov. 10. Delaware met North Carolina in 2012, losing 6-0.
Senior goalkeeper Sarah Scher said after the game Wednesday, the team might just have a chance to win against the Tar Heels if the players worked together.
“We’re a whole different team, we’re a lot more experienced,” Scher said. “It’s going to be a tough one. They’re No. 3, but at the same time, we’re such a threat, so you never know, and as long as you believe and just play your game, that’s all you can ask for. ”
The game began with both teams controlling the ball. North Carolina got a penalty corner in the fourth minute, and though Scher saved it, sophomore defender Janell Holmes had it bounce off her leg, causing another penalty corner, which the Tar Heels missed.
In the ninth minute, North Carolina midfielder Emily Wold scored as Scher went down to give the Tar Heels the early 1-0 lead. The Hens equalized in the 13th minute, as freshman midfielder Esmée Peet scored her 13th goal of the season off of a penalty corner.
Peet said while she was pleased to score a goal, the game was the toughest the team had played.
“I was pretty happy to score a goal today because we were 1-0 down today, and then we were 1-1,” Peet said. “But it was a hard game, we had to fight really hard because they were really good. We hadn’t played such a good team before.”
North Carolina opened up a 2-1 lead as midfielder Nina Notman put one past Scher in the 18th minute, and just 30 seconds later, forward Charlotte Craddock fired one away to put the Tar Heels up 3-1. Craddock would score her second goal in the 20th minute to go up 4-1. With this, van de Kerkhof called a timeout.
“I called the timeout, because, with the two goals down being the 3-1 score against us to get them settled, it went so fast that we gave up another goal,” he said. “So, I just wanted to get them settled, like, ‘Guys, settle down, settle down, we’ve got to slow them down more, that means we have to find ways to stop the plays and we’ve got to work harder together to make those things work.’”
While Delaware kept North Carolina from scoring again before the end of the first half, it was the Tar Heels who performed a rare feat of leading the Hens into halftime 4-1.
The second half began with the same tempo, as both teams fought for possession. North Carolina had a scoring chance, and though the ball went in the goal, the goal-line referee declared it was not due to the fact the ball did not bounce off the wood in the back of the goal.
The Tar Heels controlled the ball in their own zone, but Delaware made it difficult to get anywhere near the goal in the first 10 minutes. However, Craddock got her hat-trick in the 49th minute and put North Carolina up 5-1.
Delaware would answer back a few seconds later as senior forward Toni Popinko scored her seventh goal of the season to close the gap to 5-2.
North Carolina made a bold move with 18 minutes left, as the Tar Heels replaced junior goalkeeper Sassi Ammer with freshman goalkeeper Shannon Johnson. The change in goalkeeper wouldn’t affect the Hens’ chances too much, as senior Marta Momberg scored to open up the gap to 6-2. Though the Hens never gave up, they could not score again.
Overall, while the season may be over for Delaware, van de Kerkhof said this year will help the program get better and better as time goes on.
“We’ve had a great season, we have done a successful job in developing our players’ group, our seniors have done a great job believing and moving this program forward,” he said.
A version of this post appeared in the print edition of The Review on Nov. 18, 2013 headlined “Field hockey falls to UNC.”