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UNC field hockey’s 23-year-old coach leads alma mater to ACC title

Erin Matson, left, won the NCAA field hockey championship with North Carolina as a player in 2022 and is bringing the team into the tournament as the head coach in 2023. (Sean Elliot/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Erin Matson won the NCAA field hockey championship with UNC as a player in 2022. One year later, the 23-year-old is leading the Tar Heels into the tournament as the youngest coach in Division I athletics.

As a fifth-year senior in 2022, Matson won a fourth national title with the Tar Heels, scoring the game-winning goal in UNC’s 2-1 win over Northwestern in the NCAA championship game. She ended her career as the all-time points leader in the ACC after winning ACC Offensive Player of the Year in each of her five seasons.

And when her playing career was finished, Matson stepped right into coaching. She took the reins from Karen Shelton, who retired in December 2022 after 42 years as the UNC head coach.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am to do this,” Matson told Sports Illustrated in August. “It hits you. I can’t believe this is my job. This is what I get to do. My boyfriend and I will be on FaceTime and I’ll say, ‘I can’t believe I’m the head coach of UNC.’”

As a player, Matson won four ACC Tournament championships with the Tar Heels. And she continued that streak in 2023, securing her first as a coach with a 2-0 win over Duke in Friday’s title game.

The NCAA will reveal the bracket for its 2023 tournament at 10 p.m. ET Sunday. Don’t be surprised to see Matson and No. 1-ranked UNC as the top seed.