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The Daily Tar Heel

Maggie Bill's return for UNC women's lacrosse a bright spot in loss to Florida

womens lax florida
Midfielder Maggie Bill (22) plays defense against Florida during the women's lacrosse game on Saturday in Kenan Stadium.

For many reasons, the third-ranked North Carolina women’s lacrosse team will want to forget Saturday’s 17-10 home loss to No. 6 Florida. 

The Tar Heels fell behind early on, never trailed by fewer than three goals from the 2:40 mark in the first half onward and allowed the Gators to win in Chapel Hill for the second time in as many trips dating back to 2016.

But if there was a silver lining for UNC, it was that Saturday marked redshirt senior Maggie Bill’s return to the field, a positive development during an otherwise sour day for the Tar Heels. 

Bill, who was on pace to set career highs in goals and assists a season ago, suffered a left knee injury last April in a win against Louisville that kept her out of UNC’s final seven games in 2017. 

But against the Gators, Bill picked up right where she left off, scoring on just her second shot of the season. 

“It felt great to be back on the field” Bill said. “Obviously not the result that we wanted, but I’m excited to get back to work with everybody and continue to progress.”

Over the years, UNC senior Marie McCool has seen first-hand how talented Bill is. She thinks Bill’s return will help this year’s Tar Heels, who can benefit from her maturity and skill.

“Experience is something that she can provide,” said McCool, who scored four times against the Gators. “Also, she’s one of the most athletic people I’ve ever met. So, just having that extra athleticism out there definitely helps us. She has one of the best dodges I’ve ever seen in the game of women’s lacrosse.”

Before her season ended prematurely, Bill had 30 points (19 goals, 11 assists) in 12 games in 2017, impressing in her first season back on the field after redshirting in 2016. In doing so, she showed that the skills that led to her becoming a second-team All-America selection in 2015 hadn’t gone anywhere. 

Then, the injury came. 

Confined to the sidelines, Bill could only watch the highs and lows from the final stretch of UNC’s season play out as the Tar Heels won the ACC title before losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament. 

The recovery process that ensued was long and both physically and mentally challenging, Bill said. 

“I think I grew from it,” Bill said about the adversity she faced with the injury. “It was tough, but I learned a lot about myself in the process. It was a lot of hard work, and I’m excited to see how it paid off.”

Bill, who said she’s her toughest critic, felt a bit rusty against Florida but expected as much in her first game back.

“With just coming back on the field, I just need to be having fun and learning from my mistakes and continuing to grow,” she said. “Because it’s not going to be perfect from the start.”

UNC head coach Jenny Levy knows that Bill is confident in her physical ability, and thinks that the next step in her return is getting readjusted to the speed of the game. 

“It takes a while to get your timing back and your rhythm back,” Levy said. “It was good to her score, and I thought she had a couple of other good takes. With time and getting in there, I think her confidence will come back.”

@brennan_doherty

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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