February 12, 2011

UNC's Donohoe Delivers in Overtime

by Kelly Parsons | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | Live Blog Replay

North Carolina's Corey Donohoe drives past the outstretched stick Florida's Haydon Judge. Donohoe's fourth goal with six seconds remaining in overtime lifted UNC to a 10-9 victory.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- When the No. 3-ranked North Carolina women's lacrosse team hosted No. 17-ranked Florida at Fetzer Field on Saturday, it didn't take the Tar Heels long to take control of the game. UNC sprinted to a 3-0 lead, and after just four and a half minutes, it appeared that the season-opening game would be uninterestingly one-sided -- much like the Tar Heels' 18-5 triumph of the Gators last year.

But that soon proved to be far from the truth.

In a game that featured five lead changes and five ties, the Tar Heels escaped with a 10-9 win thanks to Corey Donohoe's goal with just six seconds remaining in overtime.

Florida surged to an 8-6 lead. North Carolina fought back to forge an 8-8 tie. With six and a half minutes to go, the Gators slowed down the fast-paced game. Trying to savor the last possession and milk the clock, Florida stalled.

"Unfortunately the rules of our game allow you to stall, and since 1994, I've been a huge advocate of a no-stall rule in our game," North Carolina coach Jenny Levy said. "I think it's really bad for our game for growth, but it's part of our game and everyone does it."

With 14 seconds left in regulation, Florida finally attacked the goal, but Kim Hillier's shot was wide right. The Gators maintained possession and shot again. In the right place at the right time, UNC goalie Lauren Maksym blocked Ashley Bruns' last-second attempt and sent the teams to overtime.

Florida held the momentum for much of the game, beginning when the Gators went on a 5-0 run early in the first half. Levy was disappointed in some of the Tar Heels' defensive choices, and she felt her offense wasn't taking full advantage of its possessions.

Levy was impressed with Florida goalie Mikey Meagher's performance, and admitted that the New York native's quickness forced her team to adjust its shooting strategy.

"We kept hitting her low," Levy said. "I looked at my attackers and I said, 'Look, she's made every save low. Are you going to change your shot or not?' You've got to fake her and you've got to move her. She's very good.'"

It took some time for UNC to get used to the persistence of the Gator defense, but in the final minutes of overtime, it appeared the Tar Heels had finally caught on. In the second three-minute overtime period, UNC earned the draw control and proved that two could play the stalling game.

North Carolina's Emily Garrity struck first in overtime, but Florida's Brittany Dashiell answered. With two and a half minutes left in overtime and the game tied at nine, the Tar Heels passed the ball around, waiting for an opportunity to take their final shot on goal.

And with just six seconds left, senior Corey Donohoe made her move.

Donohoe reared back her stick and delivered, giving the Tar Heels a perfectly timed go-ahead goal and ending the afternoon's bitter stalemate once and for all.

Donohoe, the Tar Heels' leading scorer in last season's 17-3 campaign, had four goals against the Gators, tied for a game high with Florida sophomore Kitty Cullen.

UNC freshman Abbey Friend contributed two goals and caused two crucial turnovers.

Friend said she was confident in her team's abilities and wasn't worried, even when the Gators held a two-goal lead twice during the game. The rookie said she stayed concentrated at the task at hand and on performing well in her collegiate debut.

And that mentality certainly paid off for North Carolina.

"It's such an honor to be a Tar Heel," Friend said. "Being able to play out on Fetzer for the first time was like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

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