UNC favored in field hockey coaches’ preseason poll

accThree-time defending national champion North Carolina is favored to claim its fifth consecutive ACC field hockey title in a vote of the league’s seven head coaches.

Led by two-time National Player of the Year Erin Matson, the Tar Heels are seeking to become the first field hockey team in NCAA Division I history to capture four straight national titles. UNC carries an 18-game winning streak into the 2021 season, with a 3-1 loss to Louisville last October standing as the Tar Heels’ only setback over the past three years.

UNC received six first-place votes and placed atop this year’s ACC preseason poll with 48 total points. Boston College (30 points) was picked for a second-place finish, while Virginia picked up the remaining first-place vote to hold the No. 3 spot with 25 points.

Wake Forest (24 points) finished fourth in the voting, while Duke, Louisville and Syracuse tied for fifth place with 23 total points each.

The forecast for a tight league race follows a 2020-21 season in which all seven ACC teams finished among the top 20 of the NFHCA national rankings. The ACC leads all conferences with 21 NCAA field hockey titles and has placed at least one team in the national championship game 29 of the past 32 seasons.

The 2021 NFHCA Division I preseason national rankings are scheduled to be announced on Tuesday.

Boston College led all schools with three players selected by the coaches to the 2021 Preseason All-ACC Field Hockey team, including the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year in goalkeeper Jonna Kennedy. Louisville and North Carolina each placed two players on the 11-member preseason squad, and each of the conference’s seven teams had at least one player selected.

ACC teams open regular-season play this weekend with a packed non-conference slate that includes North Carolina’s neutral-site game versus Michigan on Friday (2 p.m. in Iowa City), which will be a rematch of last season’s national championship game. Wake Forest will face host Iowa – which joined UNC, Louisville and Michigan in last season’s NCAA final four – in the second game of Friday’s twin bill.

The first conference games are set for Friday, Sept. 17. Syracuse is slated to host this year’s ACC Championship on Nov. 4-5 and 7 at J.S. Coyne Stadium.

2021 ACC Field Hockey Predicted Order of Finish

1. North Carolina (6) – 48
2. Boston College – 30
3. Virginia (1) – 25
4. Wake Forest – 24
t-5. Duke – 23
t-5. Louisville – 23
t-5. Syracuse – 23

2021 Preseason All-ACC Field Hockey Team

  • Margo Carlin, F, Jr., Boston College
  • Fusine Govaert, M, Gr., Boston College
  • Jonna Kennedy, GK, Sr., Boston College
  • Leah Crouse, M, Sr., Duke
  • Alli Bitting, M, Sr., Louisville
  • Charlie Van Oirschot, M, So., Louisville
  • Erin Matson, F, Sr., North Carolina
  • Meredith Sholder, M, Sr., North Carolina
  • Charlotte de Vries, F, Jr., Syracuse
  • Amber Ezechiels, B, Sr., Virginia
  • Meike Lanckohr, M, Jr., Wake Forest

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