Friday, Nov. 10, William and Mary field hockey (12-9, 4-2 CAA) lost to no. 1 North Carolina Chapel Hill (16-3, 5-1 ACC) 6-1 in the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Tournament at Karen Shelton Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC.
Though the game marked the end of the Tribe’s season, the team’s defense persisted, with nine total defensive penalty corners. During the first quarter, the Tribe kept the score 0-0, with senior goalkeeper Maddie George recording six saves.
In total, George saved a career-high 16 of UNC’s 22 shots on goal. George’s 16 saves rank 22nd on William and Mary’s single-game list and are the most for a Tribe goalkeeper in the NCAA tournament.
George described the team’s defensive success as a group effort, emphasizing how her 16 saves would not have been possible without the defenders’ support.
“One thing that’s really important to me is playing with my defenders,” George said. “I think I did my job in terms of having their back, and they did their job in terms of having mine.”
Head coach Tess Ellis further stressed the importance of the team’s collaboration.
“It was just a belief that they had each other’s backs,” Ellis said.
UNC’s first two goals came in the 19th and 29th minutes from freshman forward Charly Bruder and senior midfielder Katie Dixon, respectively. Bruder scored off a lifted shot from the top of the circle, while Dixon redirected the ball past George during an offensive penalty corner.
UNC senior forward Paityn Wirth scored off both of the Tar Heels’ offensive penalty corners in the 35th and 36 minutes. Two minutes later, senior midfielder Kiersten Thomassey’s tip at the far post pushed the Tar Heels’ lead to 5-0.
Despite UNC’s three third-quarter goals, the Tribe looked to capitalize on its offensive play during the same 15-minute stretch, with two shots on goal and two offensive penalty corners in the 45th minute. Though senior midfielder Allison Goodwin’s first attempt was blocked by UNC graduate student goalkeeper Maddie Kahn, Goodwin scored off the Tribe’s second penalty corner. After junior midfielder Pyper Friedman inserted the ball, Goodwin received it off a stick-stop by senior midfielder Maddie McGaughey and scored with a lifted shot from the top of the circle.
In the 48th minute, UNC junior midfielder Lisa Slinkert scored the Tar Heels’ sixth goal with a lifted shot from the top of the circle during an offensive penalty corner.
Ellis identified the quick turnaround between games as a challenge for the team. Between the UNC game and the previous week, Tribe field hockey played four games.
“Our biggest hurdle was what shape we were going to be in when we hit the Friday game against UNC,” Ellis said.
Before facing UNC, Tribe field hockey defeated Sacred Heart (9-11, 4-3 NEC) 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Karen Shelton Stadium on Wednesday, Nov. 8.
The Tribe’s victory marked William and Mary field hockey’s second NCAA Tournament win in program history.
With nine shots on goal and five offensive penalty corners, William and Mary dominated the majority of the game.
In the 20th minute, senior midfielder Jayden Moon passed the ball across the circle to graduate student forward/midfielder Lonica McKinney, whose tip put the Tribe in the lead.
Around three minutes later, senior forward Mollie Schuma scored her first goal of the season on an offensive penalty corner. Schuma received the ball from Friedman at the bottom of the circle and redirected it into the goal, securing the Tribe’s lead 2-0.
In the 35th minute, graduate student forward Lauren Curran received the ball at the top left of the circle from McKinney. Curran scored with a hard shot that went between Sacred Heart junior goalkeeper Samantha Maresca’s legs.
The Tribe’s final goal came in the 42nd minute, when Schuma passed the ball along the top of the circle to Friedman. Friedman scored on a reverse shot, extending the Tribe’s lead to 4-0.
The Tribe had three defensive penalty corners and George recorded one save.
Despite the Tribe’s success, Ellis emphasized the hardships Sacred Heart field hockey faced with a player sustaining critical injuries following a skiing accident last spring.
“Within every team, there’s a story,” Ellis said. “It was a game that was going to be filled with a lot of passion, and they did not give up.”
George highlighted the tournament’s novelty for current Tribe field hockey players, as the last time the team qualified was in 2018.
“It was very new to all of us, and we were just trying to soak it all in in terms of the experience,” George said. “We always want to win, but it was more about creating memories that we’ll cherish and bring with us regardless of if we bring home a medal or trophy.”
Although the Tribe’s 2023 field hockey season has come to a close, George — who will play next fall as a graduate student — remains optimistic.
“I hope that next year, we’re able to accomplish all the same things and more, but also to continue creating a very accepting and supportive culture,” George said.
Ellis hopes Tribe field hockey will continue competing against the top 20 teams in the country.
“How we played against UNC will be the standard for the next Tribe field hockey generation that comes through,” Ellis said.