Saturday’s 17-8 victory against Towson (9-7) was also an opportunity for the Tar Heels’ top-ranked freshman class to prove that the entire team will be a threatening force throughout the postseason.
Despite being out-shot and out-possessed by the Tigers in the first half, five different freshmen combined to give the No. 3 Tar Heels (13-3, 5-2 ACC) all of their first half goals and a 7-4 lead .
After the team controlled more draws and limited turnovers in the second half , senior team captain Abbey Friend gave North Carolina a second-half hat trick to seal one last regular season win after the team lost two straight ACC matchups .
“We had a lot more possession in the second half, and I think that was really important,” Friend said.
“Also just having the fire that I think we’ve kind of lost in the past few games – I think we got that back (Saturday) and I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Coach Jenny Levy said getting everyone involved and ensuring that her athletes knew their roles were priorities after Wednesday’s overtime loss to Duke and before the postseason begins.
Among those involved was senior defender Sloane Serpe , who scored twice to secure the first multi-goal game of her career , as well as freshman Sydney Holman and redshirt freshman Carly Davis , who each paid tribute to their upperclassmen with hat tricks .
“The freshmen really stepped up today,” Friend said.
“I think that it’s going to be really important moving forward for them to contribute.”
Holman was more inclined to talk about her senior teammates.
“They’re amazing leaders,” she said. “Coming in as freshmen, they really helped us to adapt, and I’m so lucky to be able to have the experience to play with them this year.
“We’ve worked hard all week just to be able to push through, especially for our seniors.”
Levy had plenty of praise for both her seniors and her freshmen.
But she also made it clear that she expects contributions from everyone who takes the field.
After the Tar Heels have struggled recently against opponents who have excelled at stalling and holding onto possession, Levy said her team, as a whole, gave her plenty to be excited about on Saturday.
“We try not to focus on results, but more on how we want to play,” Levy said.
“I think once we got that going and once we got into the fabric of the game, it really freed our kids up to play. We demanded that they be more focused on the draw and go harder after the 50-50 balls.”
And that’s just what her squad did.
“I think today was a great game from the defensive to the offensive end.
“And if it was the fire that we were missing, we certainly got it back today.”