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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's lacrosse survives nail biter with 12-9 victory over East Carolina in Greenville

UNC redshirt first-year attacker Mackenzie Rich (18) plots her next move during the women’s lacrosse game against High Point at Dorrance Field on Thursday, March 23, 2023. UNC beat High Point 22-4.

The North  Carolina women’s lacrosse team held on for a close-call 12-9 victory against East Carolina on April 11 in Greenville.

What happened?

The Tar Heels got off to a rocky start after trailing in the first quarter, with three Pirates goals going unanswered and a missed free position attempt almost leaving the Tar Heels scoreless in the first quarter. In response, senior midfielder Nicole Humphrey made a quick goal with an assist from Reilly Casey driving the ball to the back of the cage with 10 seconds left in the period, kicking off a four-goal run that stretched into the second quarter. The Tar Heels took the lead going into the half after first-year midfielder Kaleigh Harden buried a quick shot in the final seconds of the second quarter, making the score to 5-4.

The Tar Heels' offense slowed down in the second half, and ECU took a 8-6 lead towards the beginning of the third quarter. The lack of offensive prominence, however, took a turnaround in the final minutes of play as four unanswered goals secured the Tar Heels a 12-9 win.

Who stood out?

Humphrey’s prominence on the field in the early moments of gameplay proved salient in securing UNC’s victory. Keeping tight to the cage, Humphrey scored back-to-back goals to establish an early lead for the Tar Heels to give them room as later stages continued to get close. Humphrey made four goals over the course of the matchup, a career-high mark.

Similarly, junior attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger also marked two goals in the second quarter, securing UNC’s lead heading into the half. Wurzburger also assisted Humphrey's goal in the second quarter, securing UNC’s lead.

Senior defender Emily Nalls scooped three ground balls over the course of gameplay, forcing multiple clears which resulted in Wurzburger and sophomore Alyssa Long’s goals in the first minute of the second quarter.

When was it decided?

UNC continued to trail into the fourth quarter until securing two back-to-back goals early on, establishing a 9-8 lead that they wouldn't relinquish. Strong draw control by Long and Olivia Dirks dominated the last ten minutes of play, with the Tar Heels holding possession and driving four unanswered goals through the last eight minutes with back-to-back Humphrey goals into the back of the cage. While ECU made a late-stage goal to bring the score to 12-9 with a minute left, UNC coordinated defensively to hold the Pirates to only one goal.

Why does it matter?

After dropping a game versus top-15 Notre Dame on April 1, The Tar Heels were hoping to build their momentum back up as they prepare for the home stretch of the season. After a dominant 16-3 victory over Pitt last week, UNC ventured into Greenville hoping for a smooth-sailing game.

However, the ECU matchup exposed the same offensive issues that have plagued the Tar Heels at points this season. While the Tar Heels were able to salvage a win in the fourth quarter, they might need to rethink their approach as they prepare for their hardest opponent yet: undefeated Syracuse.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will play No. 1 Syracuse at Dorrance Field on Saturday, August 15 at noon.


@dthsports |

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