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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's lacrosse defeats Clemson, 17-8, in first ever matchup with upstart program

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UNC sophomore defender Brooklyn Walker-Welch (45) runs across the field during the women’s lacrosse game against Clemson at Dorrance Field on Sunday, March 26, 2023.

The No. 3 North Carolina women’s lacrosse team (9-1, 5-0 ACC) defeated the No. 22 Clemson Tigers (9-4, 1-4), 17-8, at Dorrance Field in Chapel Hill on Sunday afternoon.

What happened?

The Tar Heels wasted no time on the attack, scoring on the first possession of the drive. First-year attacker Marissa White scored off an assist from sophomore attacker Reilly Casey. Shortly after, a feeling of deja vu washed over Dorrance Field as White scored yet again on an assist from Casey. 

Junior attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger, sent in the third goal in just over five minutes for UNC, marking a trend of offensive dominance that would come to define the afternoon in Chapel Hill. Wurzburger scored her second unassisted goal in a row ahead of a media timeout as UNC boasted a 4-0 lead.

Like a broken record, White scored on an assist from Casey. The first-year attacker had a first quarter hat trick with three goals in nine minutes of play. All three goals were assisted by Casey. 

Finally, the Tigers scored for the first time ever at Dorrance Field with a goal from midfielder Jalyn Jimerson. Clemson swiftly followed that score with another goal to bring the Tigers within three as UNC led 5-2 at the end of the first. 

UNC redshirt first-year attacker Mackenzie Rich dropped her defender with a fake and scored the first goal of the second quarter. Just after that goal, a bizarre situation broke out as officials stopped play due to a potential footwear violation. A green card was issued to one player on each team for possessing illegal equipment, which in this case was wearing metal spikes.

When play finally resumed, Rich dropped in her second goal of the day. The Tar Heels kept attacking with another shot between the pipes, the first of the day for first-year midfielder Kaleigh Harden.  With a goal off a free position, senior midfielder Nicole Humphrey became the fifth Tar Heel to score. Those three goals brought the first half to a close as UNC led 9-3.

White dropped in her fourth goal of the day to get UNC started in the third quarter. Shortly after, senior midfielder Olivia Dirks scored UNC’s second goal of the half. The Tigers responded with their first goal of the half ahead of a media timeout as UNC led 11-4.

First-year attacker Caroline Godine scored unassisted for her first goal of the day. The final goal of the third came from Humphrey and sent the Tar Heels into the fourth up 13-4.

It was all UNC in the fourth. Continuing her scorching play, White scored her fifth goal just over two minutes into the fourth. Soon after, Wurzburger clinched the 10th hat trick of her career to increase UNC’s lead to 11.

A pair of goals from first-year attacker Kiley Mottice helped UNC end the game the same way it started: aggressive on offense. Despite a few late goals from Clemson, the Tar Heels claimed a dominant win over the Tigers 17-8.

Who stood out?

White claimed a first quarter hat trick and set the tone for the third-ranked Tar Heels who claimed an early lead and never looked back. She ended the day with five goals, just her second game with five or more goals.

When was it decided?

As raindrops started to fall in droves on Dorrance Field, the UNC offense followed suit, burying goal after goal into the heart of the cage. After its offense was slowed in the second quarter by Clemson and the nation’s second best scoring defense, UNC’s offense seemed to pick up almost simultaneously with an increase in rainfall. And just like the rain, the shots kept falling for the Tar Heels to end the first half.

Why does it matter?

The matchup with Clemson was the first in program history as the Tigers’ women’s lacrosse program is in its inaugural season.

After having a 29-game win streak snapped at Northwestern on March 19, the Tar Heels have now responded with two straight wins. The win over the Tigers was the first ranked win for the Tar Heels since losing at Northwestern, and their fifth of the season.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will be in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday, April 1 at noon to face Notre Dame.

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@BenMcC33

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com