March 16, 2013

Friend, North Carolina Too Fast for Georgetown

by Henry Gargan | | Live Blog Replay

North Carolina senior Kara Cannizzaro recorded a hat trick in an eight-minute span of the first half as North Carolina built an 11-6 halftime lead.
© Peyton Williams

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — In Chapel Hill this week, the roads are quiet and the dorms are even quieter. It's spring break for most of the North Carolina student body, but not for the school's women's lacrosse team.

And there was nothing lazy or restful about No. 3 UNC's performance Saturday as it convincingly downed No. 8 Georgetown 17-11 in front of nearly empty bleachers to earn a seventh consecutive victory.

"We love it. We're professional lacrosse players for a week and it's fun to have an opportunity to really bond with the team," junior attacker Abbey Friend said. "But it is hard to keep concentration — you're not in a normal routine. But I'm really glad we came out and showed everyone we had a good spring break and could capitalize at the end."

Friend especially capitalized against the Hoyas, recording five goals and one assist. She took advantage of pressure behind the cage to swing around the post and take unobstructed shots from in front of the goal.

North Carolina coach Jenny Levy said the junior has been battling tendinitis in her knee since October of last year, but that her season-high goal total against Georgetown was a great step toward full recovery.

"She was impatient, but we just kept telling her, 'It's coming, it's coming, just hold tight, you'll be fine,'" Levy said. "So this week has been a good week for her to really break out."

Even with a healthier Friend, the bonding she spoke of over spring break could be the difference-maker later in the season. Only two of UNC's 17 goals against Georgetown were assisted, although seven different Tar Heels scored. Levy said she didn't mind her team using its superior quickness to score that way, but she recognized building chemistry among her young attacking corps would open up even more doors on offense.

"We're very athletic, but it takes a while to develop that chemistry," Levy said. "But we're getting there, and we're really encouraging them to take that next step. For us, that's the next step of really being a powerhouse. I thought we could have put in two or three more goals today just finding the open player."

North Carolina's athleticism put its attackers — and defenders — at an advantage against Georgetown, and the Tar Heels were able to dominate in one-on-one situations.

After the Hoyas' Meghan Farrell scored 2:30 into the first half, the Tar Heels tore off on a 7-0 run in the next 15 minutes. Senior Kara Cannizzaro recorded a hat trick in an eight-minute span.

"I thought Carolina played really fast," Georgetown coach Ricky Fried said. "They came out strong, and we were back on our heels. And when you're tentative, they look even faster."

But the Hoyas regrouped and took advantage of some UNC turnovers to win possession. Though UNC uncharacteristically dominated the draw 12-5 in the first half and 19-11 over the course of the game, Georgetown was able to mount a small comeback before halftime — though UNC didn't slow down much. Meghan Farrell scored her second goal of the game and her team's last of the half to bring the score to 11-6 at the half.

"We started to crawl our way back out," Fried said. "But I think too many mistakes on our end didn't allow us to take advantage of the momentum that we gained on the defensive end."

For Georgetown, the second half opened as the first half had for the Tar Heels. UNC's Taylor George scored just 21 seconds into the half, but the Hoyas ripped off their own 4-0 run — which included two more goals from Farrell — to cut the Tar Heel lead to just one at 11-10.

"I thought we did a better job on the draw control, which they had dominated in the first half," Fried said. "We were able to get some more possession to create quality opportunities, and we actually finished them. We played at a little bit quicker pace. Doing the things we are capable of doing on a more consistent basis was the difference when we were successful."

But throughout the game, the Tar Heels' sheer athleticism proved too much for Georgetown to counter for a full 60 minutes. UNC ended the contest on a 6-1 spurt to put the game safely out of the Hoyas' reach.

"These guys like to play lacrosse. It's not a chore for them, it's enjoyable, it's part of what they want to do," Levy said. "The break from academics has been nice for them, but they're college kids, and they want to have a good time and they want to loosen up a little bit. But for this period, it's important that we made the progress we need to make."

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