You’ll find very few NCAA athletes who collect four rings across their college career. You’ll find even fewer with five, but Chester County native Erin Matson is one of the select few.
The 23-year-old Landenberg native added the fifth ring to her collection on Sunday in the University of North Carolina’s shootout victory over Northwestern to secure the program’s 11th national championship. This time though, Matson watched from the sidelines, not due to injury, but thanks to her role as coach.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED. 🏆✨
— UNC Tar Heels (@GoHeels) November 19, 2023
Just weeks after Matson’s playing career ended, the UNC Tar Heels pegged her at the the team’s next head coach, replacing 42-year mainstay and 10-time title winner Karen Shelton. Matson had predictably massive shoes to fill, but the woman who has been pegged “the Michael Jordan of field hockey” tied her laces and took off running.
During her playing career, Matson was a three-time Honda Sports Award winner, the trophy given to the best female athletes in 12 sports categories. Given UNC’s history of youth coaches and keeping talent in the program, Matson was an easy choice to fill Shelton’s job.
Shelton herself was 23 when she began her UNC career 43 years ago. Current women’s lacrosse coach and three-time national championship winner Jenny Levy was only 24 when she was dubbed head coach, while legendary Anson Dorrance, men’s and women’s soccer program leader, was just 24 when he began his UNC coaching career. Dorrance now has 22 total titles across his legacy.
Matson, however, was younger than all of them when she took the job at 22. She’s still believed to be the youngest manager currently coaching Division 1 in NCAA.
The Tar Heels have won five of the last six national championships since Matson first joined the team in 2018. She ushered in a new era of dominance for the program when she helped bring them a title in 2018, their first since 2009. With their fearless leader locked in at the helm, it seems like UNC’s era atop the NCAA won’t be ending anytime soon.
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