Stepping onto the field of the defending national champions and wearing the storied North Carolina blue for the first time is a daunting task for any freshman athlete coming into that unique scenario.
But for the highly-recruited Maggie Bill of the North Carolina women’s lacrosse team, the season opener a few weeks ago wasn’t her first time experiencing that exact situation.
Bill, the No. 2 incoming freshman lacrosse player in the nation , also competed for the women’s soccer team this past fall, giving her the unique position of playing for two national title defenders .
Now six games into the second of those two seasons, Bill led the No. 1 women’s lacrosse squad to a 13-8 victory against No. 17 Pennsylvania this past Sunday to keep the 6-0 Tar Heel’s victory streak rolling at 10 straight , dating back to last season.
“I think everyone stepped up in the end, and I did what I could do to help us win the game,” Bill said.
The 5-foot-7 midfielder from Huntington, N.Y. had a season-high four goals and went 9-for-11 on face-off victories for the day against a team that valued time of possession as a strategy to try to upset the top-ranked Tar Heels.
“Winning the draw is really important for us,” said senior attacker Taylor George, noting how crucial it was to counter Penn’s emphasis on possession and ball control. “We knew that coming into the game, we knew we had to get the draws.”
From winning face-offs to scoring goals, Bill does it all for the Tar Heels, and coach Jenny Levy is never short on praise for her star recruit.
“She’s an amazing person first and foremost,” Levy said. “She’s a tremendous athlete, she’s a great teammate, she’s very unselfish, she understands the game very naturally, and her IQ on the field is outrageous because of all the sports she played growing up.”
While she said it’s been an overly-busy year for her, Bill said that the wide range of experiences in different sports has helped her be a better athlete in both soccer and lacrosse.
“I think my athleticism and my speed makes up for the skills that I’m missing,” she said. She added that many of the skills for lacrosse and soccer translate well from one season to the next.
She said she wouldn’t trade the experience for a second.
“I think it’s definitely difficult not being around for (lacrosse) practices and games in the fall, but I’ve adjusted pretty well, and everyone’s been very welcoming and definitely helped me out a lot,” she said. “I’m really grateful for that.”
More than anything, Bill said she enjoys all the time she gets to spend in action on the playing field and struggled to pick a favorite between the two sports she’s been playing her whole life.
“I like how I’m in season all the time, playing games competitively,” she said. “It’s so great.”
Levy said she’s impressed, but not surprised that Bill has been able to pull it off.
“She’s so cool and calm, there’s nothing that rattles her really,” she said. “We love having her here at Carolina.”
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