When it rains, Marissa White pours.
In Sunday’s rainy matchup between the No. 3 North Carolina and No. 22 Clemson women’s lacrosse teams, the first-year attacker led UNC to a 17-8 victory with five goals.
The downpour coincided with the start of the game, and the Tar Heels’ muddied white jerseys were illustrative of the bad field conditions and difficult footing at play.
“You have to adjust what you're doing, you have to adjust your footwork, you have to have some IQ,” head coach Jenny Levy said about playing in the rain.
While others struggled out on the field, White seemed comfortable.
She netted a hat trick within the first ten minutes of the game, and all three of those goals were assisted by the same teammate, redshirt sophomore Reilly Casey. White’s other two goals came at the start of the third and fourth quarters and were assisted by junior attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger, who also recorded a hat trick.
Although only in her first year with the team, White has developed strong chemistry with Casey and Wurzburger this season.
“I think that they trust Marissa. They trust feeding the ball to her,” Levy said. “She gets open real quick, and they know that she'll finish it and get the ball in her stick. Both of them enjoy feeding to her because it makes the feeders feel good when someone finishes something they distribute out.”
Casey and Wurzburger's playmaking abilities have fueled UNC's high-powered offense this season.
With her three assists on Sunday, Casey has 27 on the season, putting her at 15th all-time in UNC history for single-season assists. Wurzburger – who also had three assists in Sunday’s game – is just three away from tying the seventh all-time career assists in school history.
White, who has now scored 24 goals in ten games, is quickly establishing herself as that duo's favorite target.
“She's a great kid, she's a great finisher as well, and she doesn't play like a freshman,” Wurzburger said about White. “She plays like a fifth-year senior and I love her confidence.”
White wasn’t the only one finishing, though. Eight different Tar Heels scored on Sunday, which is on par with the roster depth the team has displayed so far this year. UNC has had 19 different goal scorers this season, and 12 of those players have scored at least five goals.
The depth is no surprise considering that UNC's roster is full of high-level players from top to bottom, but Levy said it takes work to pull off that level of bench production.
“You want to be a multifaceted offense," Levy said. "You want to be able to dodge from different areas of the field, you want to be able to play with dodgers if it's a big, heavy dodge day. You also need to be able to feed the ball if they’re doubling early and be able to use that against them. It takes a while to get there.”
Besides adjusting to Sunday’s weather conditions, the Tar Heels also had to weather the storm against Clemson's threatening offense. The Tigers scored two consecutive goals to end the first quarter, which threw off UNC’s momentum heading into the second. Clemson also scored three times in the final three minutes of the game.
In those moments, Wurzburger said the team focuses on communicating with and trusting each other and the dynamic that they have built. That trust doesn't stop with White. Mackenzie Rich and Kiley Mottice, two young attackers who come off the bench, both scored goals to put a stop to those Clemson runs.
“There's trust in our system, in ourselves, and in the end, it worked out really well for us,” Wurzburger said.
@dthsports | email@example.com
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.