For once, the No. 4 North Carolina women’s lacrosse team knew it wouldn’t be the favorite on its home turf.
Prior to Saturday’s top-five showdown with No. 1 Syracuse, the Tar Heels had won 41 straight games at Dorrance Field. And in the Tar Heels' 14-12 loss, they didn’t quit — but they didn’t make the most of their chances, either.
The Orange boasted a 14-0 record with a stacked roster of six midseason All-Americans, while UNC had to rebuild its roster this season after graduating several program legends from a national championship team.
“Going in, we knew that everyone thought we were going to lose, which was really good motivation,” North Carolina senior attacker Nicole Humphrey said. “We wanted to show that we could still compete against a top team. I think we did a really good job of bringing the energy, and we played the best we could.”
UNC outshot the Orange 35-25, but couldn’t overcome a career day for Syracuse goalkeeper Delaney Sweitzer, who finished with 15 saves.
“We had opportunities to put the ball away,” UNC head coach Jenny Levy said. “You can’t be a shooter, you’ve got to be a finisher. And our program prides ourselves on being finishers."
Syracuse got out to an 8-4 lead midway through the second quarter. With the game on the brink of getting away, the Tar Heels couldn’t beat Sweitzer.
On one occasion, redshirt sophomore attacker Reilly Casey, in an effort to deceive the senior goalkeeper, turned her back to the goal and flung the ball over her right shoulder with an eye toward the back of the net.