The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Spring Sports - UNC Eyes Championships

The poster shows something she wants.

Slingluff Levy looked in awe at the tradition the poster encapsulated in the team's highlights. The men's team began its winning tradition in 1981.

"We weren't even a thought at that point," Slingluff Levy said.

Women's lacrosse didn't exist as a varsity sport at UNC until 1996, and apparently is still a bit of an unknown entity in Tar Heel athletics.

"Some people on campus don't even know what women's lacrosse is," junior attacker Kellie Thompson said.

Regardless of how many people on campus know of the sport's existence, the team has built a reputation as a national contender in its five seasons.

Last year the Tar Heels finished fourth in the nation after falling to

No. 1 Maryland in NCAA quarterfinals. Since 1997, UNC has not ended a regular season in lower than second place in the ACC.

"We are a top 10 program in the country," Slingluff Levy said. "When you are in that competitive an arena, our goals every year are to win the ACC Championship, not only go to NCAA Tournament, but go to the final four, get to the final game and win it.

"We haven't been able to accomplish either of those two things."

Obtaining those goals could seem to be difficult this year when looking at the team on paper. But even with the loss of three talented seniors, Slingluff Levy and the Tar Heels are still optimistic.

"Our offense is good at fast breaks, and our transition has been effective," Thompson said. "Hopefully we'll still dominate on the attacking end."

The offense graduated Kristin Off, who scored winning goals in overtime against No. 1 Maryland and No. 3 Duke last season and two-time All-ACC midfielder Meghann Mohler.

Those key losses shouldn't phase the Tar Heels, though. UNC returns four of their top five scorers. Thompson, a pre-season All American, led all scorers last season.

Fellow attacker Erin McInnis and midfielders Amy Havrilla and Christine McPike join Thompson in UNC's offensive threat.

"Our offensive unit is very small," Slingluff Levy said. "We don't have a lot of numbers, but it's good because it's tight and they work well together."

Guarding the goal should prove easier for the Tar Heels this year. Junior Melissa Coyne returns as goalkeeper and freshman Katelyn Hoffman is right on her heels for playing time.

"It makes me work harder ever day knowing they're right behind me," Coyne said. "But it also makes me more confident knowing that we have more depth."

Junior tri-captain Porter Wilkinson's versatility leads UNC's defensive unit. Wilkinson earned first-team All- American honors in her sophomore season and will continue to guard any offensive standout opposing teams try to bring against the Tar Heels.

"Last year it was great to be recognized, but we have have one of the most complete rosters in the nation," Wilkinson said. "That is great because we won't have to rely on the individual efforts of one or two people because the talent is so evenly dispersed throughout our field."

A deep roster is something UNC will need considering their rigorous schedule. Eight of the Tar Heel's regular season opponents attended the 2000 NCAA Tournament.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

"We know going into the season that we play a tough schedule with most of the top ten teams in the country," Wilkinson said. "We will probably have a loss here or there that hurts and will effect our rankings, but we know it will make us better and pay off in the postseason."