The shot, which came with 5:01 left in UNC’s 20-9 win over Albany, came off the stick of first-year Olivia Ferrucci and off the pass from first-year Gianna Bowe — two members of UNC’s top-ranked 2016 recruiting class.
Watching that connection between the two rookies, fans of the No. 5 Tar Heels (4-2) saw the potential of the class that will carry the program for the next four years.
The gem of UNC’s class is Ferrucci, who was named the No. 5 prospect in the nation for 2016 by Inside Lacrosse. Ferrucci made an instant impact for the Tar Heels — scoring two goals against Albany (1-2) to give her 12 for the season. She’s found success while still adjusting to a faster pace of play in college.
“I come from Florida, where it’s not quite as fast, not many people can pass and catch as well. I think (the Florida game) was a big shock for me,” said Ferrucci, who scored two goals but also had four turnovers in a 16-15 loss to Florida on Feb. 20.
“I had a couple more turnovers than I normally do, because the speed was just that little notch quicker. But I’m adjusting now with my teammates helping.”
Senior Sammy Jo Tracy is one of those teammates helping Ferrucci, Bowe and the other first-years with the adjustment. Tracy offered nothing but praise about working with the team’s two young talents.
“It’s wonderful, because they are great listeners,” Tracy said.
“Gianni and Olivia are becoming huge parts (of the team), and they are learning and they make mistakes. But the great thing about them is that they don’t get down on themselves, and they keep working hard — and that’s all you can ask of them.”
Bowe stands only 5-feet-tall, but she doesn’t let that limit her impact on the field. Against Albany, Bowe had four draw controls and the aforementioned assist to her classmate Ferrucci.
The veteran Tar Heels have been instrumental in helping Bowe and her teammates make the adjustment to top-level college lacrosse.
“Coming in as a freshman, I’m not very smart all the time, but they pick me up,” Ferrucci said. “And all the time in practice, I have top defenders pushing me to get better every day.”
After watching Ferrucci in the first six games of the season, Coach Jenny Levy marvels at how high she can climb.
“She’s a smart player, she’s a competitive kid and a really hard worker,” Levy said.
“That combination is really going to set her up to have great success.”
“I think where she is playing now and where she is headed is limitless. She’s really got some unbelievable potential that we are just starting to tap into.”