CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Senior Caitlin Van Sickle scored the gamewinning goal 6:13 into overtime to give second-ranked North Carolina a 3-2 field hockey win over fifth-ranked Virginia Saturday at Francis E. Henry Stadium. UNC improved to 15-1 overall and 4-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, while the Cavaliers fell to 13-2 overall and 2-1 in the ACC.
"It was an outstanding intercollegiate field hockey match," UNC coach Karen Shelton said. "I thought both teams played really well and played hard against each other. It was more of a chess match than some of our other games - sometimes we have track meets, sometimes we have chess matches and today was a chess match. It was very evenly played."
UNC got on the board first, in the fifth minute of play. Van Sickle sent a long ball toward the cage and sophomore Loren Shealy tipped it in to put the Tar Heels up early in the conference battle.
Virginia tied the score in the 22nd minute on one of the Cavaliers' two first-half penalty corners. Senior Michelle Vittese got the goal, her ninth of the season.
UVA took the lead in the 43rd minute, when Hadley Bell smacked a long ball into the circle and Rachel Sumfest directed it in to put the Cavaliers up 2-1.
Trailing by a goal, the Tar Heels called a timeout with 8:02 remaining in the game and pulled goalkeeper Sassi Ammer in favor of an extra field player. The Tar Heels drew a corner just over four minutes later and tied the game on a goal by sophomore Charlotte Craddock, assisted by freshman Emily Wold.
The teams played out the final 3:32 of regulation without a score, sending the game into overtime. UNC scored 6:13 into the seven-on-seven extra period, on their first penalty corner of overtime. After senior Kelsey Kolojejchick's shot was saved, Van Sickle put back the rebound for the gamewinner.
"We've been preparing for this kind of game all season," Van Sickle said. "When you get in these situations it's always a lot of fun - it's what we train for. After Syracuse we looked at our seven-a-side and sort of restructured it and we've practiced it consistently the last two weeks, so I think that really showed in the game today and helped us."
"Both teams grew from this," Shelton said. "Virginia is outstanding. I think they're one of the teams that can win a national championship. I think we are, too.
"I'm delighted for the team - we had a lot going on today with Carolina Kids Club, Turn It Pink and our alumni back in town, and I'm just delighted we were able to come away with the win."
Next up for the Tar Heels is the final ACC game of the season, on Oct. 20 at Maryland.
No. 2 UNC 3, No. 5 Virginia 2, OT
Shots: UNC 18 (11/5/2), UVa 14 (6/8/0)
Penalty corners: UNC 7 (2/4/1), UVa 8 (2/6/0)
Goalkeeper saves: UNC 9 (Sassi Ammer, 72:51, 9 saves, 2 goals allowed); UVa 11 (Jenny Johnstone, 76:13, 11 saves, 3 goals allowed)
Defensive saves: UVa 1 (Elly Buckley)