March 8, 2014

Friend Leads No. 1 UNC Past Virginia 14-10

by Drew Goodman | | Twitter

In-Game Blog Replay


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. - The top ranked North Carolina women's lacrosse team proved once again why they are number one in the country, using a big second-half surge to down #8 Virginia, 14-10 on Saturday afternoon.

The Cavaliers (2-4) held UNC below its season average in scoring, and absorbed several early blows from the defending National Champions.The Heels outshot Virginia 43-27 on the afternoon, but the Hoos were able to stay in the game thanks in large part to a record-breaking performance from senior goalkeeper, Liz Colgan. The Cockeysville native tallied 22 saves, 15 of which coming in the first half. UNC had several multiple-shot possessions, but Colgan was a force between the pipes, and was not afraid to step out of the cage to win a number of run outs.

"Our strength is that we practiced certain tendencies this week for each individual player on their attack, and we made them score in different ways; ways they were not used to," said Colgan of Virginia's defensive effort

"Liz was able to do a great job because she knew where the shots were coming from," Virginia head coach, Julie Myers said. "Our defense did a nice job of crashing those and finding those shooters."

In an attempt to slow down the lightning quick Tar Heels, UVa shied away from pressuring the ball and switched to a zone to ensure that the help defense was there. The strategy paid off for the early stretch of the game, and the Cavs held UNC to just seven first half goals, after being outshot 26-9 in the opening 30 minutes.

However, the Tar Heels' speed and relentless pursuit of the cage found several holes in the Wahoo defense late.

North Carolina (7-0) has won 11 straight contests dating back to last season, thanks in large part to its ability to score in bunches.

That is just what the Tar Heels did on Saturday.

After Liza Blue tallying back-to-back goals to open the second half for Virginia, North Carolina then outscored UVa, 7-1 in 16 minutes, and did most of its damage in transition. Taylor George rebounded an attempt from Abbey Friend and cashed in to begin the game-defining run for the Tar Heels. As seen in the first half, UNC won several crucial draws during the stretch and was able to maintain possession without letting Virginia back on the attack.

"I thought in the first half, we had a lot of quality looks, and credit Liz Colgan for making the saves, but we didn't finish well today," North Carolina head coach, Jenny Levy said. "When you're in that type of game, you just have to keep shooting. We probably could have gone on a run earlier if we had been able to finish a lot of our opportunities. It was nice to see some of those shot go in in the second half."

After falling behind 2-0 in the game's first two minutes, North Carolina responded with four consecutive goals to grab a lead that it would not relinquish.

The Tar Heels spread the ball around nicely, with Friend, George, and Ashly Messinger each recording hat tricks.

It was Messinger that ensured the momentum would stay with the visitors at halftime. After Margret Corzel intercepted a heave from Colgan at midfield, Messinger found the top left hand corner with just two seconds remaining in the half to put Carolina ahead 7-4 at the break.

Though she struggled with her shot early, Sydney Holman rebounded for a big five-point performance for the Heels. The Chapel Hill native recorded three assists and although she was not in on every scoring play, the Cavaliers were forced to account for energetic freshman at all times.

"She has done a pretty good job for us this year," Levy said. "She has a lot to learn, but she recovered from some of the easy shots she missed in the first half, and moved better in the second half and created a lot of opportunities for our offense."

Bocklet and Blue each tallied hat tricks for the home-standing Wahoos, while Maddie Keeshan finished with one goal and one assist. Keeshan and Courtney Swan combined for 10 of Virginia's 27 shots, but the pair combined for just one goal a piece.

The Cavaliers were able to speed the game up and hung right there with the Tar Heels for the bulk of the game.

Virginia was sloppy when it elected to kill time late in the first half. The Hoos had two possessions that lasted longer than two minutes, that resulted in turnovers and led to Tar Heel goals.

The Cavaliers missed several opportunities on offense, only converting on 28 percent of their free position opportunities, and failed to clear the ball six times.

Interior passing was less than stellar for both teams as both Carolina and UVa combined for 24 turnovers on the afternoon.

Saturday marked UVa's fifth game of the season against a top-five opponent. The Cavs will return to the pitch on Tuesday, at William and Mary.

North Carolina will look to remain unbeaten on Wednesday against Elon.

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