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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's lacrosse cruises past No. 17 Clemson in first matchup of ACC Tournament

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UNC first-year midfielder Kaleigh Harden (17) passes to graduate attacker Lauren Figura (27) during the second quarter of the women's lacrosse game against Duke at Koskinen Stadium on Thursday, April 20, 2023. UNC beat Duke 13-6.

The No. 3 North Carolina women's Lacrosse Team (12-3, 7-2 ACC) kicked off the ACC Championship quarterfinals with a vital win against No.17 Clemson (12-5, 4-5 ACC) at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte on Wednesday night. 

What Happened?

The 8:00 p.m. delay affected the Tar Heels as they came out with a slow start. Despite senior Olivia Dirks winning the first faceoff and getting three quick shots on goal, UNC could not get into the game until the end of the first quarter. 

Clemson came off strong, weathering UNC's shots and fighting back to score the game's opening goal. But the Tar Heels Caitlyn Wurzburger didn't let up, finally breaking the Clemson defense to make her upper corner shot and round out the first quarter 1-1.  

Momentum changed in the second quarter with Lauren Figura scoring off a backside shooting space call. First-year Kaleigh Harden quickly followed with a bullet to get the second goal of the quarter. But things didn't stop there. Figura and first-year Caroline Godine scored the fourth and fifth goals for the Tar Heels. 

After going 1-10 on shooting in the first quarter, UNC's offense came together to convert four of five shots on goal within the first 3 minutes of the second. North Carolina's defense matched the intensity, not allowing Clemson to get a shot on goal for ten consecutive minutes. 

The Tigers kept fighting to stay in the game, scoring their second goal off the 8-meter. However, senior Nicole Humphrey fought back in the last minute, winning a critical ground ball into a breakaway goal to regain the 8-2 lead. 

UNC's Alyssa Long picked up right where she left off, scoring the ninth North Carolina goal. But the next few minutes showed that Clemson wasn't going anywhere. The 9-2 lead slowly closed as Sofia Chepenik and Hanna Hilcoff closed the gap to 9-4. 

Unfortunately for the Tigers, their end-of-game efforts weren't enough. The Tar Heels hit a new gear at the end of the third quarter and carried it through the rest of the game. Nicole Humphrey earned a hat trick and three more players got their first goals of the night. North Carolina's clean match ended with only three turnovers, ending in a 15-6 win.  

Who stood out? 

The final score does not reflect the performance of Clemson goalie Emily Lamparter. She came out with a big save against senior Melissa Sconone's shooting-space shot to keep Clemons' 1-0 lead for the first 9 minutes of the game. 

More big saves came from Lamparter when she stopped first-year Marissa White's and Harden's strong shots and again at the end of the 2nd quarter to slow down UNC's momentum. 

But the diversity of the UNC lineup outshined any other aspect of the game. There were nine different shooters for the Tar Heels' 16 goals. 

In particular, the freshman Caroline Godine had a standout performance. Her craftiness around the cage lit up the crowd and brought energy to the Tar Heel team, along with adding 3 points to the scoreboard.

When was it decided? 

The first three minutes of the second quarter secured the game for the Tar Heels. Four goals were scored in this short period, combined with three more this quarter, giving UNC 7 unanswered goals. 

Why does it matter? 

The Tar Heels kept their winning streak up today after their tough win against Duke last week. These two consecutive victories against ranked teams and today's first-quarter comeback will give them confidence as they advance in the tournament.

When do they play next? 

The Tar Heels advance to the semifinal match, where they will face Syracuse at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.

@LucyThomas03

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