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Tuesday August 9th

Taylor Moreno anchors back line for UNC women's lacrosse in 15-7 win over Notre Dame

Goalkeeper Taylor Moreno (30) passes the ball back to a teammate after preventing Louisville from scoring at a home game. The Heels won 21-8 on Sunday, March 13, 2022.
Buy Photos Goalkeeper Taylor Moreno (30) passes the ball back to a teammate after preventing Louisville from scoring at a home game. The Heels won 21-8 on Sunday, March 13, 2022.

A brick wall lines the interior of Dorrance Field, but on Saturday, Taylor Moreno was a brick wall in her own right.

In the North Carolina women's lacrosse team's 15-7 win against Notre Dame, the graduate goalie had the second-highest save total of her career with 16 and gave the Fighting Irish fits all day as they struggled to put the ball in the net.

"She was incredible,” head coach Jenny Levy said. “I thought the unit as a whole was really effective.”

Twenty-four minutes into the game, the Fighting Irish were still looking for their first goal as Moreno stuffed all of their shot opportunities, having already made nine saves. 

While Notre Dame managed to score two goals in the remaining six minutes to make the score 5-2 by the halftime mark, that’s the closest they would get.

The Tar Heels' offense came out of halftime with vigor, outdoing their first-half total in six minutes with six goals. Senior attacker Jamie Ortega contributed a hat trick of goals in that span, and sophomore attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger dished the ball effectively, getting a hat trick of assists. Ortega finished the game with six goals, while Wurzburger matched her season-high four assists and added a goal of her own.

“There was a mind shift,” Ortega said. “Each quarter is a new game, a new offense, a new defense we see. Second half we realized exactly what we were doing wrong. Coming into the second half, we were like, ‘We’re fed up with this. We’re so much better than how we’re playing.’”

While the UNC offense took it to the Notre Dame defense, Moreno continued to hold it down in the net. 

With 5:41 left in the third quarter, the Fighting Irish had a free position shot and a chance to end the six-goal Tar Heels run. But Moreno had other ideas. 

After stopping the initial shot, and falling to her knees, Notre Dame had a wide-open net. Moreno made a miraculous leaping effort to prevent the score — a delight to the home crowd.

"I honestly don’t remember much of it,” Moreno said. “It kind of came off my foot and there was a scrum in the middle, and I was still on the ground. I was banking hoping that I was going to be able to get a piece of it.”

Moreno locked down the Fighting Irish until they put together a five-goal fourth quarter, including during the final five minutes when they scored three times. Despite the onslaught of goals, the seven goals allowed by Moreno throughout the game were the second-lowest total of the year.

“Taylor’s our rock,” Ortega said. “The score could’ve been a lot different if we had a different goalie. She was also feeding off all the saves, and the defense was giving her saves that were going right to her and made it easy for her.”

North Carolina’s stifling defense has only allowed double-digit goals in three of its 12 games. But for a defense that’s not only anchored by Moreno, but also graduate defender Emma Trenchard and junior Emily Nalls, the trouble that teams have been having is anything but surprising.

If North Carolina hopes to make it back to the Final Four again this year, that trio will be crucial for the Tar Heels in Baltimore. But today, Moreno shined the brightest as she seemingly stopped everything that came her way. 

It's not a shock to Ortega — someone who has played with her every step of the way at UNC.

“That’s what she does," Ortega said. "She saves shots.”  

@thenoahmonroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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