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The Daily Tar Heel

Wilkinson's Absence Hurts Tar Heels' `D'

Blame it on Georgetown's Stanwick sisters, who terrorized the Tar Heel defenders.

Blame it on a North Carolina scoring drought of 28:23, during which the Hoyas turned a 6-7 deficit into a 15-7 advantage that would prove insurmountable.

But the true key to the North Carolina women's lacrosse team's 15-9 loss to fifth-ranked Georgetown on Saturday was not on the field but on the Tar Heel bench, wearing No. 15.

Out with a kidney infection, Porter Wilkinson, one of the Tar Heels' tri-captains and a returning first-team All-American defender, could only sit and watch the loss to the Hoyas.

And without her, her defensive mates seemed terribly out of sync.

"I think we missed Porter's communication," said UNC goalkeeper Melissa Coyne. "Other defenders tried to pick that up (Saturday), but it's tough when your defensive leader is out and you're playing one of the top attacking teams in the country."

The absence of Wilkinson, who said she hopes to return to practice on Monday, was evident as Georgetown attackers Sheehan and Wick Stanwick torched the Tar Heels for 12 of the Hoyas goals.

Several of those goals came on wide-open shots.

UNC coach Jenny Slingluff Levy said that Wilkinson's absence caused a major breakdown in the Tar Heels' defensive effort.

"They rely on Porter Wilkinson and Andy Fortino to communicate," Slingluff Levy said, "and when one of those two are not in our defense, it breaks down, and that's what happened today."

Coyne said the Tar Heels' offensive woes also contributed to the defensive let up.

"I think that when you're getting pounded goal after goal after goal, and then, when we do get the ball down there, not scoring, I think it's a little bit demoralizing," Coyne said.

"But there have been times when our defense isn't playing well and when our attack is scoring goal after goal. So, we had to pick it up on our end, and we didn't."

Despite Saturday's struggles, Wilkinson said she was confident that the Tar Heels (7-4, 1-2 in the ACC) can return to winning form Wednesday against James Madison, a game in which she hopes to play.

"I think we'll be fine," she said. "We have a big game Wednesday. But I know this team, and I know individuals. And I think we'll be fine."

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