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UNC women's lacrosse freshmen hope to make an impact this season

As the North Carolina women's lacrosse team took the field Friday for its first home exhibition game of the fall, the Tar Heels lined up along the sideline prior to the opening faceoff against Winthrop.

Each player's number could be seen by those in attendance, such as Aly Messinger's No. 27 and Maggie Bill's No. 22. Those numbers are well-known by those who followed the team in the spring. 

But Friday presented the opportunity for fans to get acquainted with the eight freshmen that stood on Finley Fields and the eight new numbers they donned as they saw their first action in front of a home crowd in a UNC uniform. According to unofficial stats, the Tar Heels routed the Eagles 29-6. 

Each freshman is bringing new talent to the team, but it is clear there are specific players to keep an eye out for in the upcoming 2015 season.

Marie McCool, a midfielder from New Jersey, is entering the program as the nation's No. 2 recruit by Inside Lacrosse. Coach Jenny Levy said McCool comes from a high school that prepared her for the college level.

“I’m definitely still getting used to things and working with new people,” McCool said. “I’m having a great time, it’s really fun.”

The pressure of being a highly touted recruit and having to perform well in order to meet high expectations can lead to disappointment. 

But McCool said she is ready to meet those expectations — and possibly exceed them.

“To me, rankings don’t mean anything, I need to prove myself,” McCool said. “It definitely puts a lot of pressure on me and it makes me want to work harder and harder every day.”

Among the Inside Lacrosse Top 30 incoming freshman rankings are two more Tar Heel midfielders, Ela Hazar and Bridget Curran. 

Though they have played at an elite level throughout their high school careers, playing on the collegiate level is completely different. But Curran said that the relaxed environment of the team has made the transition easier.

“I think what helped was the fact that we didn’t start practicing legitimately until two weeks into school, so we did pick-up during those two weeks,” Curran said. “I think that time period was a good time to get to know the seniors and once I got to know everyone, I felt comfortable around them.”

There are still nearly four months of preparation until the official season begins, but the freshmen are motivated and working hard toward being able to make an impact this year. 

Levy said this year's incoming class highly differs from last year's offensive-heavy group, but she expects it to have a similar impact. 

“Overall the group is very talented,” Levy said. “There are not as many offensive kids in this group, obviously because last year's group had so many, but there are probably three or four of them that will contribute major minutes for us this season, which is really exciting.”

sports@dailytarheel.com

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