“You’ve got to get those touches and the reps before heading into the game,” senior forward Loren Shealy said. “It’s a crucial part of it. I don’t think our intensity and focus was where it should’ve been against Louisville.”
And it showed. After an uncharacteristic, flat-footed start on Saturday, No. 1 UNC (5-1, 1-1 ACC) suffered its first loss of the season to No. 14 Louisville (6-1, 1-1 ACC) by a margin of 3-2.
“We knew our warm up was not sufficient,” Shealy said. “It was lack of focus and a lack of working as hard as you possibly can to complete the drills and to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get ready for the game.”
The Tar Heels have scored the majority of their previous goals in the first half, but at Trager Stadium, they found themselves caught in a sluggish midfield battle.
UNC’s fundamental skills lacked finesse, and the Cardinals exploited this weakness, netting a pair of goals before the end of the half. For the first time all season, North Carolina found itself in an extremely vulnerable position.
“We came into the lion’s den at Louisville,” Coach Karen Shelton said. “(The difference was) their corner execution. They had four corners, and they scored on three. We had four corners, and we basically didn’t get a shot on goal.”
Senior forward Charlotte Craddock finally found the net for the Tar Heels and then the equalizer only a minute later. Despite this glimmer of hope for UNC, penalty corners ultimately proved to be the team’s Achilles’ heel when the Cardinals scored the game-winner off a penalty play with five minutes remaining.
North Carolina had less than 24 hours to reflect on the loss before returning to Trager Stadium Sunday to face Miami University of Ohio (2-7, 0-0 MAC).