The Female Field: Erin Matson wins third NCAA championship with UNC Field Hockey

The Female Field

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – U.S. Women’s National Team field hockey player and junior captain Erin Matson led the University of North Carolina field hockey team to its third straight NCAA championship. The win Sunday was the ninth national championship for the Tar Heels.

Matson got the scoring started in the first quarter and finished the game with a sudden victory goal with 3:21 left in the first overtime period against the University of Michigan. The final score was 4-3.

The winning goal was scored off of a corner, where it was inserted to Matson, she did a move around a Michigan defender, and took a reverse shot. The corner play was called for Matson, but she wasn’t meant to go reverse.

“Our assistant coach and I actually joked after the game because he was like ‘Erin we normally don’t go to the reverse on these types of situations,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, but I had confidence.’ I figured why not,” Matson said.

Assistant coach Robert Schenk quickly forgave her.

The game was played at Karen Shelton Stadium, the Tar Heel’s home field named for the team’s current coach. This was the first championship won at the stadium, which was built in 2018.

“Each national championship has their own little elements of, you know, being super special or being really memorable, and I think this one, it was because we were at home,” Matson said.

Since the game was played in Chapel Hill, the women had a lot of supporters.

“Because we were at home, we were surrounded by, not only our family and other students here at UNC, but all of our fellow student athletes who came to support us,” Matson said.

Only a certain amount of people were allowed to be inside of the stadium, but many others were outside of the fence watching.

Matson has been a member of the national team since she was 16 years old. She and former national team player Katie Bam are the youngest to ever be a part of the team. Matson has appeared in over 50 games for the U.S.

She and her family recently launched an organization called FH Connects. Field hockey has had such a positive impact on her and her family’s life that she wants to work to give that to others.

Matson said FH Connects “helps community centers build sustainable field hockey programs.”

Since launching in October 2020, Matson said a lot of people have reached out to start the program in their area.

“It’s great just seeing how many people want to help spread the game, spread awareness, get kids who wouldn’t have the opportunities, to be able to have them,” she said.

With the addition of this championship, UNC is now tied with Old Dominion for the most NCAA field hockey titles.

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