After trailing 2-1 for the opening nine minutes in its game against High Point, the No. 1 North Carolina women’s lacrosse team closed the half on an 8-1 scoring run and defeated the Panthers by a final score of 16-6.
Junior midfielder Ela Hazar got on the scoreboard for the Tar Heels in the opening three minutes, but the Panthers (0-1) responded with a goal from Samantha Brown to even the score. Although North Carolina (3-0) was able to generate several good chances early, unforced turnovers in the attacking zone stopped the Tar Heels from taking an early commanding lead.
High Point’s ability to pick up ground balls gave it its second goal of the game, but UNC responded quickly with Sammy Jo Tracy winning the preceding draw and then scoring off an assist by Ela Hazar. Tracy’s goal started a four-goal run for the Tar Heels to put some distance between them and a pesky High Point team and sent North Carolina into halftime with a 9-3 lead.
Playing against a sagging defense, North Carolina had to play methodically rather than using its superior athleticism. While the defense did result in some sloppy play from the Tar Heels, they were ultimately able to overcome it and settle into their offense.
Who stood out?
Tracy was dominant as usual controlling draws for the Tar Heels; however, her scoring gave UNC a lift when it was going through a lull. The midfielder’s movement without the ball put her in perfect position to receive Hazar’s pass right in front of the goal and her hustle off a deflected shot allowed her to soar in the air for an acrobatic goal.
Caylee Waters’ six saves weren’t anything eye-popping. But her ability to anticipate passes and act as an extra defender in front of the goal stopped the Panthers from firing many close-range shots. With the Tar Heels touting such a reliable last line of defense, High Point had a hard time finding the right shots to take in its set pieces.
When was it decided?
In the final 1:05 of the first half, North Carolina added two goals to stretch the lead to six. With High Point struggling to create scoring chances, the deficit was simply too much to overcome in one half.
Even though High Point was able to cut the deficit to four with 17 minutes remaining, two straight goals by North Carolina put the game firmly out of reach.
Why does it matter?
Despite it not being one of North Carolina’s sharpest performances, the team was able to take care of business at home to thwart High Point’s upset with a solid first half. As UNC continues nonconference play, it will be important for the team to assert its dominance early on and avoid letting opponents gain confidence.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels play tomorrow morning in an exhibition game against the English national team. The game is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. in Henry Stadium.
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