The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday December 3rd

Women's lacrosse gets by with a little help from Friend

Abbey Friend is the senior captain — of the defending national champions, of the No. 1 team in the country.

North Carolina opened its season against the Florida Gators, the No. 4 team in the country. The same Florida Gators team that beat the Tar Heels in the season opener last season .

Did she let the pressure get to her?

In the first 1:24 of UNC’s 20-8 win, she answered that question with a definitive “no.”

Friend scored the first of her five goals early in the game. It was already 1-0 when Friend scored, extending the early lead that UNC would not relinquish.

In a game that UNC dominated seemingly from the start, Friend was making plays everywhere, also adding two assists to her five goals. One of her assists went to freshman Sydney Holman, who also had five goals in the game. Holman said that Friend’s presence on the field makes everything easier for her.

“She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been able to play with, and she’s a great teammate,” Holman said, “And I‘m so lucky to be able to play with her.”

Friend knows creating offense is her priority on the field. She knows that in order for her team to be successful she has to score goals and tally assists. But she also knows that her teammates rely on her to do more than that.

“The biggest thing is for me to help my teammates and help them get better,” Friend said. “I was in Sydney’s position starting my freshman year.

“As much as I can help her and help her get into the flow, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Coach Jenny Levy knows that Friend’s play is paramount to the team’s success. She said that Friend’s ability to communicate with and reassure her teammates is what makes her so important.

“Abbey’s a real important piece of our team this year,” Levy said. “She calms everybody down.

“Her leadership is really important for us on the field.”

Fellow senior Taylor George, who also tallied a hat trick in the victory, also said that Friend’s impact reaches far beyond the stat sheet

“Even if she wasn’t to score five goals she’s a huge impact regardless every game,” George said. “She’s a huge emotional leader for us on the field regardless of goals or whatever else.”

Saturday, Friend was the centerpiece of a dominant balanced attack that made the No. 4 team in the country look lost at times.

Being the reigning national champions puts a target on your back, and being the senior captain of that team means that teams are going to focus on you.

Defending the title won’t always be easy, but Saturday Friend made it look that way.

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