North Carolina Outpaces Syracuse with Dominant Second Half
By Nicole Weaving
Women’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — No. 16 Syracuse and No. 5 North Carolina kept it competitive in the first half, but the Orange walked into the locker room down by three, 8-5. Emily Hawryschuk, Syracuse’s leading scorer, netted the first two goals and four of SU’s five draw controls. Asa Goldstock made eight saves, including three on free position shots.
Then the Tar Heels proved why they belong in the top five.
“I thought Asa did a great job in the first half giving us a chance to keep it close,” Syracuse head coach Gary Gait said. “But we were allowing them to get second opportunities and making it tough on our defense by not getting possessions on the draws.”
UNC won 14 of 19 draws in the second half, leading to countless opportunities on offense that gave North Carolina (10-3, 5-1 Atlantic Coast) an easy victory over Syracuse (8-7, 0-5 Atlantic Coast) 20-11 in the Carrier Dome.
Marie McCool came into this matchup tied for sixth in the nation in draw controls with 7.25 per game. The Tewaaraton Nominee snagged nine draws in the second half alone.
“Marie McCool was outstanding today,” Gait said. “She demonstrated the quickness that you don’t see that often.”
Kara Klages and Gianna Bowe also showed how their scrappy and quick play on the wings could get the Tar Heels possessions.
“We just need to battle a little bit more and pick up some ground balls out there,” Gait said. “I think we struggled around the circle, more than anything—getting the ground ball and working together to get it.”
From the inability to get the draw, the defense then struggled to slow UNC’s momentum on attack. SU switched between man-to-man defense and a backer defense, but neither seemed to be working.
“We started man-to-man. That didn’t go well. So, we went to backer,” Gait said. “Then we went back to man-to-man and then we went backer. We weren’t putting it all together, so we were scrambling.”
That was evident during North Carolina’s three-goal run in the first five minutes of the second half.
Syracuse was playing man-to-man on UNC’s first goal. Marie McCool carried the ball to the elbow, actively looking like she would drive but ultimately pulling it out. Kara Klages backdoored her defender and was wide open cutting from the opposite side. No SU defenders crashed on her, so Klages easily put it past Goldstock.
About 30 seconds later, the Tar Heels passed the ball to Katie Hoeg who tried to beat Ella Simkins. When Simkins stopped her, Hoeg pulled out to find Jamie Ortega streaking through the center with a step on Sam Swart. Ortega caught the pass and the ball was in the back of the net moments later.
Another 30 seconds passes. Marie McCool caught Emily Resnick flat-footed and blew by her with pure speed. She fired it from a couple steps off the goal-line extended and bounced it by Goldstock. This time Neena Merola and Simkins were late on the slide.
“I thought we were focused and I thought we just came out flat,” Gait said. “We didn’t show up today. We didn’t deliver our best game and our best performance.”
Asa Goldstock had a lone save in the second half as the Tar Heels shot with power and veracity while the Orange could not put pressure on them. The sophomore knew this was not about a lack of preparation.
“They are quick. We knew exactly how their players played,” Goldstock said. “They had a lot of feeding, a lot of dodging. It’s hard to stay focused for the whole 60 when we are seeing the ball a lot”
Gait ultimately saw how his team forced it when North Carolina started running up the score.
“We weren’t playing from a position of confidence and knowing we are in the game, we were trying to catch up five goals at a time instead of one,” Gait said. “We got a little out of sync, caused some turnovers, took some iffy shots and that’s what happens when you play from behind.”
The Orange will have four days of rest to work out some kinks before Syracuse faces undefeated Boston College on Thursday in Chestnut Hill.
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