Field hockey ends California trip with 6-0 win at Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. — North Carolina’s field hockey team completed its trip to the West Coast on Sunday without giving up a goal, beating Stanford 6-0 to improve to 6-0 on the season.

The Tar Heels began their first trip to California since 1989 with a 7-0 win at Cal on Friday. They now have three consecutive shutouts and have beaten their last three opponents 17-0.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” UNC coach Karen Shelton said. “I’m glad our Tar Heels got two shutouts and scored a lot of goals. Everyone had a chance to contribute and we had a great time visiting San Francisco.

“When you travel to new places, you don’t know what you’re up against, but our kids have played hard and played together. What I’m most happy about is that we’re improving with every game – we’re continuing to grow and this team is eager to learn.”

Next up for UNC No. 2 is the start of Atlantic Coast Conference play. Carolina travels Friday to face No. 5 Louisville in what will be a battle between the top five undefeated teams.

Sunday at Stanford’s Varsity Turf, the game went much like Friday’s game at Berkeley. Again, neither team scored in the first quarter, but the Tar Heels did it quickly in the second.

Just 58 seconds into the period, freshman Ryleigh Heck got UNC on the board with their fourth goal of the season, recovering a senior ball Erin Matson and send it to the top of the cage.

Two minutes later, senior Paityn Wirth picked up a stray ball in the middle of the circle with his back to goal and sent a no-look pass towards the post, where Katie Dixon dived to score his first goal of the season and a 2-0 lead.

UNC’s next goal came on the game’s first penalty corner. Stanford goaltender Daisy Ford saved Tar Heel’s first two shots, but in sophomore Kennedy Cligget got the rebound after the second and returned a quick shot for the score, his second of the season.

The Tar Heels added one more before halftime, on another penalty corner. After a fake from Matson, the ball went to rookie Sietske Brüning, who passed it down the right side. Wirth sent him back through the cage where the Stanford keeper played him before Ashley Sessa tapped it out for the score.

Five minutes into the third quarter, Carolina received a penalty stroke after Wirth was fouled in the circle. Second year Lisa Slinkert got the call on UNC’s first shot of the season and sent his shot into the left side of the cage for a 5-0 lead.

The Tar Heels’ last goal of the day came in the 42n/a minute of play. Dixon’s initial shot hit the post but Heck grabbed the rebound before Stanford keeper Kendall Dowd could reach and put it back for a 6-0 lead and his first multi-goal game in as Tar Heel.

UNC held a 17-2 shooting advantage with 12 of them on goal. The Tar Heels didn’t concede a corner while shooting four goals and scoring on two of them.

Carolina Guardians Kylie Walbert and Abigail Taylor continued to split time in goal, with Walbert playing the first 30 minutes, when the Cardinal failed to take a shot, and Taylor playing the second half, when she saved the Cardinal’s only shot on goal .

The trip was also a success on the field, with the Tar Heels visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and playing tourist in San Francisco on Saturday between games. Carolina also had the chance to compete in front of Bay Area alumni — including Harris Barton, who played football at UNC and went on to a Pro Bowl career with the San Francisco 49ers — and young players.

“It was great to see all the young kids who came out this weekend to watch us play and get autographs and talk with the team – it’s great for the growth of our game,” Shelton said. “This trip was overdue for us – we really wanted to get out there and support the California teams – and it won’t be that long before we’re back here.”

No. 2 UNC 6, Stanford 0
Rating: A C – Ryleigh Heck (Matson), 15:58; A C – Katie Dixon (Paityn Wirth), 6:04 p.m.; A C – Kennedy Cligget, 9:00 p.m.; A C – Ashley Sessa24:09: UNC- Lisa Slinkert (penalty stroke), 35:03; UNC – Heck, 41:42
Strokes: UNC 17 (3/9/5/0), Stanford 2 (0/0/2/0)
Penalty corners: UNC 4 (0/2/1/1), Stanford 0
The guardian saves: UNC 1 (Kylie Walbert30:00, 0 goals against, 0 saves; Abigail Taylor, 30:00, 0 goals against, 1 save); Stanford 5 (Daisy Ford, 30:00, 4 goals against, 4 saves; Kendall Dowd, 30:00, 2 goals against, 1 save)
Recordings: UNC 6-0, Stanford 2-3

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