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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 2 Virginia field hockey team fell 3-2 in the NCAA semifinals to third-seeded North Carolina Friday in Winston-Salem, N.C. Senior Traci Ragukas and sophomore Paige Selenski scored for the Cavaliers.
Ending a historic year at 20-4, Virginia set a program record for wins in a season and games played. The team made its third overall appearance in the NCAA semifinals and its first since 1998.
“They were just so excited,” head coach Michele Madison said of her squad. “They worked the whole season to be here. They are a good, young team and they just wanted to get on that field and play. Nerves are a good thing. They let you know you’re still alive, and they will make you work hard.”
No. 3 North Carolina (18-2) moves on to play reigning national champion Maryland (23-0), which earlier in the day defeated Princeton 7-5.
For the game, UNC had a slight advantage on shots, 12-11, with Virginia taking eight penalty corners to seven for the Tar Heels. Junior keeper Kim Kastuk recorded five saves for the Orange and Blue, as did North Carolina’s Jackie Kintzer.
Carolina got on the board first with a goal in the 23rd minute after both defenses stayed strong to start the game. Danielle Forword notched her 15th goal of the season, converting on a penalty corner with an assist from teammate Katelyn Falgowski.
“North Carolina came out strong, and they were able to get the corners,” Madison said. “I thought our defense held them off well, and we were able to shut down their corner opportunities except the very last one that they did score on. That’s what the championship game is about. You have to be able to put it in when you have the chance.”
The Tar Heels led 1-0 at halftime.
In the second half, Virginia came out dominating, with Ragukas causing problems for the opposition. On a penalty corner, Inga Stöckel took a shot that rammed into the back of the cage, hitting the board, but was called back after being ruled too high at the goal line.
The Cavaliers continued their offensive pace and tied the game when Ragukas notched her 10th goal of the season, sliding in front of the cage to be placed in the right corner of the net. The goal came in the 48th minute.
Less than two minutes later, North Carolina responded when Taryn Gjurich tallied her first score of the year on another assist from Falgowski. Then in the 54th minute, the Tar Heels took a two-goal lead wtih Elizabeth Drazdowski putting one through for a 3-1 advantage.
Virginia did not quit, and was able to score to come within one goal when Selenski converted on a penalty corner, tipping the ball in on a shot from Stöckel at the top of the circle.
The Cavaliers outshot North Carolina 8-4 in the second half and registered seven of its eight penalty corners to one for UNC.