The No. 1 North Carolina women’s lacrosse team has a knack for winning.
For the first nine games of the season, that translated into mostly double-digit victories and uncontested dominance for the Tar Heels.
But on Saturday, North Carolina (10-0, 3-0 ACC ) proved that it can win the close ones too, defeating No. 4 Boston College 14-13 in dramatic fashion with a game-winning goal from sophomore Aly Messinger with 28 seconds left.
“It’s always good to have a close game like that and have it within a goal or two and be able to pull it out,” senior captain Abbey Friend said. “It’s definitely a learning experience for everyone which is a good step for our season.”
Coach Jenny Levy said she thought the Eagles (7-2, 1-2 ACC ) were the toughest team they’ve faced all season.
“They have seven seniors and play with a lot of fire. A lot of confidence,” Levy said.
Friend echoed her coach’s sentiments about the mental battle that Boston College waged.
“They were really feisty,” Friend said. “They definitely wanted to win. I think we were a game that was circled on their calendars.”
Despite the outcome, the feisty Eagles actually out-shot the Tar Heels 31-22 in the game .
“We didn’t really struggle to score, but Boston College did a good job of shortening the game and gaining possession and holding onto the ball for an extended amount of time,” Levy said.
Messinger certainly did not struggle to score, netting five total goals and recording an assist , cementing a career-high game for her in goals and points . Her scoring output began with a goal 32 seconds into the first half and ended with North Carolina’s final two scores with under four minutes left in the game .
“Aly’s so good,” Levy said. “She’s a human mismatch on the field. There aren’t many defenders I’ve seen that can stay with her.
“She’s the one who’s very unselfish, so she doesn’t always look to take over games. But she does have the ability to take over any game she plays in and that was evident (Saturday).”
Messinger said she was happy with the team’s composure late in the game and added that she welcomed a game that required some late heroics.
“It felt great,” she said. “We haven’t had any really close games like that this season. We’ve worked so hard all year long for those types of games. So it was a lot of fun.”
With the victory, the Tar Heels set records for the program’s best start to a season and the longest winning streak in Carolina women’s lacrosse history, with 14 straight wins dating back to last season .
But Levy said the winning streak is the last thing on their minds.
“We’re just focused on our next opponent,” she said. “We’re not really looking too much at our winning streak, because it’s not that important to us. The quality of our play and the level of our intensity is really what we’re looking at.
“We’re getting better everyday and each game is an opportunity to see a different opponent that has a different style of play somewhere on the field that challenges us.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.