CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - After allowing a first-half goal for just the fifth time this season and falling behind early, the second-ranked North Carolina field hockey team scored six unanswered goals to beat visiting Virginia Commonwealth 6-1 Sunday afternoon at Francis E. Henry Stadium. Senior Kelsey Kolojejchick had a hat trick and two assists to lead the Tar Heels, who improved to 12-1 with the win. VCU, off to its best start in school history, fell to 8-2.
"It was a very good result against a feisty VCU team," UNC coach Karen Shelton said. "We thought their goalkeeper [Megan Botteri] played exceptionally well and made it difficult for us in the first half. I didn't think we were playing poorly by any means, I just think we didn't make enough adjustments offensively in the first half to try to find a way to score goals."
The Rams scored in the 21st minute of play on their only shot and only penalty corner of the first half. Senior Kelsey Scherrer had the goal, with the assist from sophomore Kendall Combs.
The VCU lead lasted just under three minutes, before sophomore Charlotte Craddock fed a ball to junior Sinead Loughran, who shot from the right side of the cage to tie the score at 1-1 with her fourth goal of the year. Five minutes later, Kolojejchick got the rebound from her own saved shot and put it back to give the Tar Heels the lead for good.
UNC added to its 2-1 halftime lead just 54 seconds into the second period, when Kolojejchick scored again on a pass from freshman Emily Wold. In the 46th minute, junior Marta Malmberg scored on a penalty corner, assisted by sophomore Abby Frey and Kolojejchick. Kolojejchick then added an unassisted goal on a shot from the top of the circle to put UNC up 5-1. The final goal came with seven minutes to play on a penalty corner, with Craddock scoring on a pass from Kolojejchick.
"I thought Kelsey Kolojejchick was outstanding today," Shelton said of her vice-captain, who was involved in five of the team's six goals against the Rams and leads the Tar Heels in both goals (11) and assists (16) this season. " Getting the first goal of the second half I thought was critical. She got that big third goal and it kind of set the tone for the second half. I'm pleased with a great team effort and glad we found a way to score goals."
Carolina finished with 29 shots, to VCU's two, both of which came on penalty corners. Goalkeeper Megan Botteri made 16 saves for the Rams. Sassi Ammer had one for UNC.
VCU coach Shannon Karl received a red card 1:35 into the second half and had to leave the bench area for the remainder of the game.
Next up for the Tar Heels is an Atlantic Coast Conference road game on Saturday at Boston College. UNC will stay in Newton, Mass., for a neutral-site game against Dartmouth on Sunday. Carolina's next home game is on Oct. 13 against Virginia.
No. 2 UNC 6, VCU 1
Scoring: VCU - Kelsey Scherrer (Kendall Combs), 20:34; UNC - Sinead Loughran (Charlotte Craddock), 23:19; UNC - Kelsey Kolojejchick, 28:10; UNC - Kolojejchick (Emily Wold), 35:54; UNC - Marta Malmberg (Abby Frey, Kolojejchick), 45:16; UNC - Kolojejchick, 56:11; UNC - Craddock (Kolojejchick), 63:17
Shots: UNC 29 (18/11), VCU 2 (1/1)
Penalty corners: UNC 13 (8/5), VCU 2 (1/1)
Saves: UNC 1 (Sassi Ammer, 70:00, 1 goal allowed); VCU 16 (Megon Botteri, 70:00, 6 goals allowed)
Records: UNC 12-1, VCU 8-2