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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 1 UNC women's lacrosse begins its title defense with 14-9 win over No. 12 JMU

Junior attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger (13) celebrates a goal with teammates Andie Aldave (31) and Jamie Ortega (3) during the 2022 ACC Championship Game against Boston College.

Reigning national champions and preseason No. 1 North Carolina women’s lacrosse (1-0) defeated No. 12 James Madison (0-1) 14-9 in its 2023 season opener. 

What happened?

The Tar Heels and the Dukes remained neck-and-neck throughout the first quarter. James Madison’s Isabella Peterson scored three goals in the opening quarter, all immediately followed by goals from the Tar Heels — two from Caitlyn Wurzburger and one from Marissa White. Another goal from UNC’s Marissa White in the final seconds of the first quarter put the Tar Heels up by one to enter the second quarter. 

North Carolina was able to develop a multi-score lead throughout the second quarter. UNC scored three goals and JMU scored two goals during this quarter, putting the Tar Heels up 7-5 to enter halftime. The scoring wealth was shared during the second quarter, with all goals being scored by different players. UNC’s Sophie Student, Brooklyn Newmen, and Reilly Casey each had one goal, while JMU’s Tai Jankowski and Isabella Peterson had one apiece. 

The third quarter was dominated by UNC, who had three different players with goals. Caitlyn Wurzburger had assists on two of these goals, scored by Marissa White and Reilly Casey. Nicole Humphrey had one unassisted goal, as did JMU’s Tai Jankowski. 

JMU shortened UNC’s lead in the fourth quarter, but ultimately came up short. Despite goals from Isabella Peterson, Tai Jankowski, and Maddie Epke, the Tar Heels were able to hang on and win 14-9. 

Who stood out? 

JMU’s Isabella Peterson finished with five goals, four of them scored in the first half. Tai Jankowski of the Dukes also had three goals. UNC goalkeeper Alecia Nicholas had 14 saves, ensuring that the Tar Heels remained in the lead. Reilly Casey of the Tar Heels had three assists throughout the game with three goals of her own. North Carolina’s Marissa White finished the game with five goals, starting her first collegiate season off with a bang. 

When was it decided?

Although the game remained close in the first quarter, the Tar Heels were able to maintain the lead throughout the second, third, and fourth quarters. Ever since Marissa White scored at the two-second mark of the first period, North Carolina maintained a goal of at least 1 for the rest of the game, being up by as many as six during the fourth quarter. JMU’s fourth quarter push proved to be ineffective as UNC picked up their first win of the season. 

Why does it matter?

Coming off of an undefeated and championship-winning 2022 season, this win shows that North Carolina remains the team to beat. Their schedule this season is anything but easy, and this opening game is a good omen for the rest of the season. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will stay at home for their 5 p.m. game against Liberty University on Wednesday.  


@dthsports |

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