UNC women's lacrosse departed from its usual style to beat Cornell

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If nothing else, North Carolina’s women’s lacrosse team is known for being fast.

In UNC’s February game against Towson, Kara Cannizzaro scored a hat trick before four minutes had ticked off the clock.

Aly Messinger, a freshman, routinely chases down attackers from behind in the midfield.

But in their 11-10 Wednesday night victory against No. 11 Cornell, the Tar Heels had to deal with being made to look merely pedestrian.

No. 3 UNC (8-1) managed to grind out a come-from-behind win despite being frustrated, at least in the second half, by a defense that matched its athleticism step-for-step.

“We started slow, and we haven’t started slow offensively,” coach Jenny Levy said. “That hasn’t been one of our issues. Whether it’s been mentally or physically, we just weren’t where we needed to be.”

Though UNC scored the first goal, a free-position shot from Cannizzaro just more than five minutes into the first half, the Tar Heels would have liked for that first strike to have come even sooner.

Levy said UNC’s attackers took difficult shots in the opening minutes and missed the more enticing opportunities. Eventually, though, the Tar Heels settled into their rhythm.

“Today was all about composure,” said Emily Garrity, who recorded two goals and two assists. “Some things didn’t go our way — we made shots that weren’t going in. It’s all about seeing what’s open and adjusting to that. In the end, we did a good job of that.”

Cornell responded to briefly take a 2-1 lead, but UNC managed to take a 6-4 advantage into halftime. Cannizzaro scored another two goals, and Taylor George, Brittney Coppa and Messinger all added one apiece.

And again, in the second half, UNC opened the scoring. This time, though, the Big Red had more than a fleeting answer. After the Tar Heels opened up a 7-4 lead, Cornell tore off a 6-0 run. Used to getting off to quick starts and fending off late runs, UNC found itself on the other side of the story.

Though the Tar Heels prevailed 17-11 last weekend against Georgetown, two of those 17 goals were assisted. Against equally speedy Cornell, UNC’s one-on-one tactics would have to be switched out for something more deliberate.

So UNC began working the ball around the outside of the Big Red defense rather than trying to squeeze its way through.

“In the second half, I became more of a distributor,” Cannizzaro said. “I’m a dodger, and that’s something that I like to do. They were sliding early, but that worked for our benefit because (my teammates) knew that I was going to get doubled, and the girl backside was going to be wide open.”

Cannizzaro assisted Garrity on a goal that closed the gap to just one. Four minutes later, she scored the tying goal herself. With three minutes to play, Coppa gave UNC the winning one-goal lead off of an outside-in feed from Garrity.

“We’d prefer not to play from behind, but the fact that we played from behind and dug out a tough win is a good sign for us,” Levy said. “We have to have a short memory … but also keep our momentum moving forward to this weekend for our game against (Boston College).”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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