All three were sidelined for the whole 2014 season with injuries.
On Sunday, the trio returned to Fetzer Field and each scored once again, collaborating with a mixture of other new and familiar faces to earn a 13-9 season-opening victory for the No. 2 Tar Heels against James Madison.
“I think a year off has made me want it a lot more than I ever have in my whole life,” said Coppa, now a senior captain. “It was great to be back out there, and it was great to get a win on our home field for our first game.”
Coppa’s eagerness to return to the field was quickly made apparent: Her goal came just 37 seconds into the game and set the tone for an aggressive UNC attack.
“I liked our aggressiveness and how tough we were,” Coach Jenny Levy said. “I thought JMU did a great job of challenging us today, and they’re a good team. This was a great start to our season.”
The Dukes displayed their toughness all game long, even taking the lead temporarily seven minutes into the second half, until the Tar Heels responded with a streak of five unanswered goals to seal the victory.
Of UNC’s 13 goals, only three came from Tar Heels who played for the team last year.
Leading the team this time was sophomore attacker Alex Moore, who transferred to UNC after leading Southern California’s team in goals last year as a freshman.
Moore added four goals in her debut as a Tar Heel, and she received high praise from Levy after the game.
“She’s just smart,” Levy said. “I trust her to be in the game and be in the moment.
“She missed a one-on-one with the goalie in the first half, and it’s not a big deal — those things happen. But I like the fact that she responded and, in the second half, she put in some really great goals.”
Moore said her first gameday experience as a Tar Heel was amazing and that she is already dedicated to this offense.
“My job as an attacker is to look to go to goal and move the ball as fast as I can,” she said. “So whatever I can do to help, I’m going to do.”
But that doesn’t end the list of talent that the Tar Heels are welcoming this season.
Also among the list of goalscorers Sunday were freshmen midfielders Ela Hazar and Marie McCool — both of whom were included in Inside Lacrosse’s list of top 20 incoming freshmen.
Coppa said she was thrilled to see new faces fit in and to see the team coming together early in the season.
“I think one of the best things we have is heart and hustle, but I think we can get better with staying a little bit more composed,” she said. “Our offense needs to work on slowing the pace down, but other than that, I see nothing but success for our team in the future.”