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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 1 UNC women's lacrosse tops Florida, 12-5, in a top-10 tilt

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The UNC women’s lacrosse team celebrates after scoring a goal during the game against UF on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at Dorrance Field. UNC beat UF 12-5.

The No. 1 North Carolina women’s lacrosse team beat No. 7 Florida by a score of 12-5 in its last game before it enters ACC play.

What happened?

The first half was dominated by the Tar Heels. UNC outshot Florida 8-3 in the first quarter, consistently finding runners near the Gators’ goal mouth and generating shots. 

Florida goalkeeper Sarah Reznick kept the Gators afloat in the first quarter with five saves. Reznick was only beaten by a quick strike by first-year attacker Marissa White, whose run past the Florida defense was found by junior attacker Reilly Casey and gave the Tar Heels their only goal of the first quarter.

The floodgates opened in the second quarter. North Carolina scored four goals in under five minutes, with a curled Casey swing from deep making the score 5-0 to UNC.

Florida, unable to advance into the final third or win its ground ball duels, wouldn’t register a shot until 4:36 left in the quarter. Despite Reznick adding six more saves, the Gators would concede again and find themselves down 6-0 at the end of the first half.

The Gators flipped the game’s momentum to start the second half, forcing three UNC turnovers in dangerous areas and scoring off all three. In three minutes, UNC’s lead was cut down to 6-3.

Florida would dictate the flow of the third quarter, winning five ground balls to UNC’s one and outshooting the Tar Heels 10-6. UNC, however, cleaned up its sloppy play and took its opportunities when they came, scoring three goals off their six shots and ending the third quarter up 9-4.

Who stood out?

Casey was responsible for firing passes into danger zones from behind the goal, a role in which she excelled, assisting two goals. Even when operating at tight angles far away from goal, Casey still found openings to score two tough goals and a third off a free position.

Casey’s passes often found fellow attacker White, whose well-timed runs were rewarded with five shots and two goals. Both attackers helped suppress a Gators comeback attempt with their attacking contributions.

UNC’s 25 shots on goal may have resulted in more goals if not for the efforts of Reznick, whose 14 saves are the third most a Florida goalkeeper has ever recorded against UNC.

When was it decided?

UNC controlled the game for the entirety of the first half, but a three-goal Florida salvo challenged that dominance. Holding steady to keep its lead, North Carolina would regain its dominance of possession and ground ball duels in the fourth quarter, with Florida shut out from even attempting a shot until 4:12 left in the quarter. 

By the time Gators attacker Danielle Pavinelli scored off a free position, UNC had scored three goals earlier to effectively seal the game.

Why does it matter?

In its three-game non-conference slate, UNC has recorded wins against the No. 12 and No. 7 teams in the country. Today, the Tar Heels outshot the Gators 34-23, kept control for most of the game and regained control when threatened early in the second half, justifying its No. 1 ranking.

Despite losing several key players to its attack, UNC’s attackers found and exploited gaps in a top-10 opponent’s defense all game. A comfortable victory featuring a dominant attack bodes well for the Tar Heels as they begin facing ACC opponents.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will start its ACC schedule in Blacksburg, Va. on Friday, Feb. 24, facing Virginia Tech at 7pm.

@dmtwumasi | @DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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