March 21, 2009

Tar Heels Tough Out Big Win over Georgetown

by Jesse Baumgartner | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- When No. 6 North Carolina came out flat and fell behind 3-0 just 4:50 into Saturday's women's lacrosse game against No. 4 Georgetown, UNC coach Jenny Levy wasn't exactly shocked.

After noticing some fatigue from her team during a midweek game against Old Dominion, she made practices a little lighter and was aware of the potential consequences.

"I called my assistant last night and said, ‘Just know that the first 10 minutes of the game are going to be ugly. We're going to weather the storm, and I think our kids will be fresh enough to kick it in.'"

Levy turned out to be right on the money with that prediction.

The Tar Heels (7-2) rebounded from that initial deficit, employed a direct attack on offense and stayed focused on a patient Hoyas attack to post an impressive 12-7 victory at Fetzer Field, as they continue to keep their season rolling.

"I think we realized after they got three goals on us that possession was key, so that started with the draw," said junior Megan Bosica, who had four goals and two assists.

"And when we were finally able to get on attack, we knew that our middies needed to break, our defense definitely needed to break, so we wanted to kind of settle it, but also ... push it on them."

The Tar Heels were certainly successful in forcing the issue when they did get the ball on offense. Bosica and junior Jenn Russell (three goals) continually made hard cuts toward the net and found openings that kept UNC up on the scoreboard. Bosica highlighted that trend when she literally circled around several GU defenders before darting toward the net and put UNC up 6-4.

And the defense, which struggled initially against Georgetown's deliberate offense, found its comfort zone, too, as it kept things close when UNC's offense failed to score for the last 11:37 of the opening half and the first 10:57 of the second half. After the Tar Heels woke up with a tie-breaking goal by Bosica to make it 7-6, the Hoyas (5-3) would score just once more.

"I think our initial problem was the draw, and they were very patient on the ball, but they were all moving, so we had to get into the groove of things," senior defender Amber Falcone said. "And we got a little nervous at first, but I knew that we could handle them, and once we started to match their patience we were fine."

The Tar Heels' resiliency at the start of both halves goes right along with the way they've turned this season around. After starting off with three straight victories, they lost 12-7 to Northwestern on March 2 in a somewhat bizarre makeup game thanks to weather, and then went up to Penn four days later for a nice little 11-2 wakeup-call loss.

"We played really bad in the Penn game," Falcone chuckled. "No excuses for that, but we regrouped. We came back together."

The immediate response was a road win at Denver before a huge 12-8 victory against Virginia a week ago. With a Wednesday win against Old Dominion and this convincing performance against the Hoyas, UNC has put itself right back in the picture of the nation's elite teams.

"We've got a lot of sophomores out there and a lot of juniors, and I think it just takes some time for us to realize who we are and what we're all about," said Levy, who talked about turning the Penn loss into a positive.

"And I think that we know we're tough, and I know that we're talented and we can compete with anybody in the nation." 

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