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No. 3 UNC women's lacrosse loses to No. 12 Notre Dame, 16-12, in South Bend

UNC junior midfielder Sophie Student (33) stays focused in the women’s lacrosse game in Dorrance Field against High Point University on Thursday, March 23, 2023. (score)

The No. 3 North Carolina women’s lacrosse team (9-2, 5-1 ACC) fell to No. 12 Notre Dame (8-3, 4-2 ACC), 16-12, at Arlotta Family Stadium in South Bend, Ind. on Saturday afternoon.

What happened?

Both teams came firing out of the gate with the Fighting Irish drawing first blood on a goal from midfielder Kasey Choma. UNC first-year attacker Marissa White quickly answered with a score off an assist from first-year attacker Caroline Godine.

Notre Dame midfielder Mary Kelly Doherty assisted on the Fighting Irish’s next two goals that took place in a span of two minutes. After a scoreless eight minutes from either side, Notre Dame attacker Madison Ahern found the back of the cage.

UNC junior attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger connected with junior midfielder Sophie Student for a goal to cut the deficit to 4-2, but the Fighting Irish closed out the first quarter with a free position goal from attacker Jane McAvoy.

White scored early in the second frame, but Doherty and attacker Jackie Wolak answered with a pair of goals. UNC junior midfielder Alyssa Long nailed a free position shot, but the Fighting Irish closed out the quarter with another pair of scores to hold a commanding 9-4 lead at halftime.

Choma scored in the first minute of the second half while Long soloed an unassisted goal. Wurzburger and Student combined for three successful free position shots to give North Carolina life at a 10-8 deficit midway through the third quarter, but Choma and midfielder Kristen Shanahan slowed the Tar Heels’ momentum with two goals. Godine scored on a man-up opportunity to close out the third quarter and UNC trailed 12-9.

Ahern scored unassisted to make a statement early in the fourth quarter for Notre Dame, but redshirt first-year attacker Reilly Casey hit a free position shot on a man-up opportunity. However, Ahern all but sealed the bout with two more goals to give Notre Dame a 15-10 lead with under 10 minutes to play.

Wurzburger found Godine for a score and graduate attacker Lauren Figura converted a man-up free position shot with just under seven minutes to play. However, UNC was held scoreless for four crucial minutes and from there, the Fighting Irish milked the clock and never looked back.

Who stood out?

The veteran Wurzburger led UNC’s offense with two goals and two assists. Long, White, Student and Godine all scored two goals apiece.

Ahern was unstoppable for Notre Dame, putting up five goals. She was followed by Choma and midfielder Kelly Denes, who both recorded hat tricks.

When was it decided?

North Carolina had a chance to muster a late comeback when the Tar Heels were only down three with seven minutes to play, but the game was ultimately decided when they were held scoreless for four minutes down the stretch. Denes delivered the dagger with under two minutes to play to give Notre Dame a 16-12 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Why does it matter?

North Carolina entered today having won 27 consecutive ACC regular season matchups. It’s also the first time the Tar Heels have lost at least twice in a season since 2019. Both UNC losses this year have been on the road. 

About 38 percent of North Carolina’s goals this year have been from true first-years — a testament to the talented youth of this new-look roster. However, that inexperience showed down the stretch as the Tar Heels couldn’t keep pace with a veteran Notre Dame squad.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels return to Dorrance Field to play Pittsburgh on Friday, April 7 at 2 p.m.


@dthsports |

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Daniel Wei

Daniel Wei is a 2023-24 assistant sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as a senior writer. Daniel is a junior pursuing a double major in business administration and economics.