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The Daily Tar Heel

Turnovers plague UNC women's lacrosse in 7-5 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame

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UNC graduate defender Emily Nalls (1) and graduate midfielder Olivia Dirks (12) chase an opponent during the women’s lacrosse game against Notre Dame on Sunday, March 2, 2024 at Dorrance Field.

With 30 minutes left to play, the No. 7 UNC women’s lacrosse players were left to mend a self-inflicted wound. 

As North Carolina retook the field with a tied score and a power-play opportunity, the team saw the chance to take its first lead. 

Working to find an opening, attacker Eva Ingrilli missed a pass from midfielder Julia O’Connor in the arc. Notre Dame recovered the ball after the miscue from the two first-years, killing the penalty and the Tar Heels’ chances of finding the momentum early.

“You can’t take shots if you’re turning over the ball,” head coach Jenny Levy said

During North Carolina’s 7-5 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday, the Tar Heels had 19 turnovers, tying their season-high. UNC averages 14 turnovers per game, but the Tar Heels coughed up seven in the first quarter alone. With UNC unable to maintain possession, Notre Dame doubled North Carolina in shot attempts en route to outscoring it 4-2 in the second half. 

With under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Tar Heels’ turnover plague continued. 

Graduate defender Emily Nalls passed a high ball to Ingrilli in transition. Unable to catch or recover the ball, Notre Dame regained possession and moved quickly down the field.

Without Notre Dame's defenders set, UNC graduate defender Gabi Hall and junior goalkeeper Alecia Nicholas stood alone against the surging Fighting Irish. Noting the mismatch, Notre Dame’s Madison Ahern took advantage and notched her fourth goal of the game. The Tar Heels found themselves in a two-goal deficit that Levy described as "self-inflicted wounds."

To begin the fourth quarter, the Tar Heels tried to use their pace against Notre Dame. Following a save, Nicholas passed to senior midfielder Alyssa Long, who sprinted down the field trying to beat the Fighting Irish. Long passed to sophomore attacker Kiley Mottice.

Working to score quickly, Mottice turned to senior attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger, who was positioned on the right side of the goal. The pass soared over Wurzburger’s head, and Notre Dame scored on the next possession

“If you catch and throw well, then you can probably do the rest of the game well,” Levy said. “So part of our issue was just not being on the same page.”

Over and over again, the Tar Heels tried to overtake the Fighting Irish, but their hopes were quickly doused by their own mistakes. With every sloppy turnover, North Carolina appeared even more disorganized. 

Against a veteran Notre Dame squad, the inexperience of a young UNC team showed. The Tar Heels’ offense became something completely uncharacteristic of the precision Levy strives for. 

“Being in a game of that caliber for some of our players made them a little tight,” Levy said. “So some of the easy stuff that they normally finish wasn’t there for us.” 

As the head coach contemplated the loss, she found solace in using it as a learning opportunity. For Levy, this loss had nothing to do with the talent of Notre Dame. Instead, the head coach acknowledged what the Tar Heels were never able to do — heal the wound they exposed. North Carolina simply never became a cohesive offensive unit. 

“This isn’t a slight on Notre Dame, but it was self-inflicted half the time,” Levy said. “It wasn’t anything that they were doing special. I think we just didn’t make great choices with the ball.”

@_emmahmoon

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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