“(The) Big Ten is known to be really physical — they’re gonna body up on you,” Young said. “And I think we weren’t ready for that.”
The Wolverines’ physicality made it difficult for UNC to dribble through the defense — which Head Coach Karen Shelton said the team tried to do too much — instead of passing like North Carolina usually does.
This lack of execution left the door open for Michigan’s late goal on Saturday, giving UNC its first season-opening loss since 2002.
The Tar Heels started much faster on Sunday, with senior Kristy Bernatchez coming up from the back line to take a penalty corner just over 10 minutes into the game. Bernatchez sent the ball into the circle, where sophomore Ashley Hoffman was ready to shoot.
Hoffman’s shot bounced off the Hawkeye keeper to Bernatchez, who poked the ball into the cage for the Tar Heels’ first goal of the season.
“It was good to get that out of the way,” Bernatchez said. “And it kind of opened the can of worms.”
The Tar Heels scored three of their four goals off assists and generated several more shots because of their passing game.
Redshirt first-year Catherine Hayden earned her first career assist when she drew the keeper out of the cage late in the first half and passed the ball to sophomore Mackenzie Mick, who scored on the open net for her first career goal.
Senior Lauren Moyer also got on the score sheet thanks to some nifty passing. Redshirt senior Emma Bozek drove down the side of the end line before dumping the pass off to first-year Megan DuVernois, who passed to Moyer for the easy goal.
Even the lone unassisted goal of the day, scored by first-year Eef Andriessen, was set up by a through ball from junior Gab Major.
Shelton was delighted by the adjustments the Tar Heels made in the passing game between contests.
“They understood,” she said. “They know the game. They’re smart players. I just think we got into a battle yesterday, and it was so early in the season we didn’t handle it well.”
As the team looks forward to the rest of the season, Shelton said the Tar Heels will use situations like the Michigan loss to motivate themselves — just like they did Sunday.
“They could’ve hung their heads and felt sorry for themselves,” Shelton said. “And instead, they made the changes that they needed to make in order to open teams up.”