A short-lived rain shower at Fetzer Field caused a 15-minute delay in the North Carolina women’s lacrosse team’s 13-9 win against unseeded Virginia in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
But the third-seeded Tar Heels didn’t let the delay slow them down.
With three goals and three straight draw controls, UNC grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first minute of play Saturday — a lead it would never relinquish.
“The key to the game today was how we started,” coach Jenny Levy said. “I looked up and we had scored three goals in less than a minute.
“That momentum was huge for us.”
The Tar Heels used that quick scoring barrage as the foundation for a first half where every UNC shot found the back of the net. By halftime, UNC held a 10-2 advantage against the Cavaliers.
Senior captain Kara Cannizzaro said the Tar Heels’ mentality kept their energy from being dampened by a rain delay and helped them come out ready to roll.
“Every time we step out there we want to come out, and we want to be the first people to put a point on the board,” Cannizzaro said. “(A rain delay)’s not going to really affect our intensity and how we come out of the gate.”
By dominating draw controls 9-4 — something they couldn’t do in their first contest with UVa. – the Tar Heels retained possession and held the Cavaliers to six shots in the first half.
Levy said that draw dominance was the difference in the game, adding that Emily Garrity’s performance was a primary reason for that difference.
With seven draw controls, Garrity had just one fewer than the entire UVa. team combined, and more than twice as many as any other player. To add to that, Garrity caused a game-high three turnovers and netted two goals on three shots.
“She’s a midfield grinder,” Levy said. “She doesn’t get a lot of recognition and she’s just a tough, balls-out player. Her leadership on the field today was instrumental.”
But Garrity wasn’t the only Tar Heel with a notable game. With five goals on five shots, junior Abbey Friend showed that her moves around the crease were the only things slicker than the field Saturday.
On multiple transition opportunities, Friend found herself one-on-one with the Cavaliers’ keeper, and with a plethora of fakes, Friend proved to be flawless.
But Friend didn’t want to take credit for those goals herself. She preferred to give credit to the team’s ability to get out in transition.
“We were really getting out of the defensive end,” Friend said. “Our middies were doing an awesome job getting the ball up to the attackers.
“It was almost kind of easy to put it behind the goalie because it was one on none.”
With their newly acquired final four bid in hand, the Tar Heels are now ready to make the trip to Villanova next weekend for a match up against Northwestern. Even though the Tar Heels won last time the two teams played, Levy said UNC plans on approaching the game the way they approach every game.
“The game has no memory,” Levy said. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve won or lost. The only thing that you have are the 60 minutes in front of you.”
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