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Sunday January 16th

UNC women’s lacrosse wins home finale against Jacksonville

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In the first half of the North Carolina women’s lacrosse team’s 16-4 rout of Jacksonville on Friday, senior midfielder Kara Cannizzaro saw the perfect opportunity to give her freshman teammate Aly Messinger a reason to celebrate with her on Senior Night.

With Jacksonville goalkeeper Karli Tobin scrambling to return to the cage, Cannizzaro led a fast break following a Dolphin turnover, scooping up the ball and hurling it to an open Messinger.

But the No. 3 Tar Heels (12-2, 4-1 ACC) were unable to convert — the ball soared over the freshman’s extended stick and out of bounds.

Though an 9-0 run in the second half sealed the game’s result, the play was an example of UNC’s sloppiness in a first half marred by turnovers, wide shots and stagnant set offense.

Despite scoring six goals in the opening 17 minutes of the game, the Tar Heels were unable to find the net again before halftime, and committed 12 turnovers in the period.

Coach Jenny Levy said she told her players at halftime, when they led 6-3, that she wanted them to make adjustments on their own.

“We’re not a veteran team by any stretch of imagination,” Levy said. “But we certainly have enough experience from the season to get out there, work together, make better choices and finish on our opportunities.”

Levy’s concise pep talk seemed to quickly get through to the Tar Heels. About a minute into the second half, Cannizzaro and Messinger teamed up again, only this time the result ended up on the scoreboard. Messinger assisted on Cannizzaro’s team-high 40th goal of the season and second goal on the night.

The Tar Heels scored nine unanswered before Jacksonville was able to answer with a goal of its own with 5:08 left in the game. Jacksonville’s four goals were the fewest scored by an opponent against UNC this season.

Junior attacker Abbey Friend said UNC’s success in the second half was due in large part to the team’s shift in offensive strategy.

“In the first half we had a lot of transition goals, and sometimes it’s kind of hard to tone back down and settle the offense when you’re moving really fast the whole time,” Friend said. “But in the second half we slowed it down a little more and were more effective offensively.”

For the second straight game, Cannizzaro picked up two yellow cards and was removed from play.
Cannizzaro said she sees room for herself and the team to improve heading into the final regular-season game against Vanderbilt.

“We can’t wait until the second half to turn it on against any more teams this season,” Cannizzaro said. “We have to come out from the beginning of each game and show them what Carolina lacrosse is.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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