CHAPEL HILL - Fifth-ranked North Carolina jumped out to a 7-1 first-half lead and held off a rally from top-ranked Northwestern to defeat the Wildcats, 11-8, on Friday night in women's lacrosse action from Fetzer Field. The win breaks a four-game Tar Heel losing streak to the defending NCAA champions and is UNC's first win over the Wildcats since 2010.
Carolina (3-1) wins its third consecutive game since dropping its season opener to Florida. Northwestern falls to 2-1.
Abbey Friend led the Tar Heels with three goals, including Carolina's final two goals of the game in the last 15 minutes as it held off the Wildcat rally. Friend's goal with 1:13 to go in the contest essentially iced the victory for Carolina.
"It was definitely a strong team effort for us," Tar Heel head coach Jenny Levy said after the game. "I thought we did a great job of sharing the ball. Even though they beat us pretty badly on the draw, we made some good stops defensively and were very patient in getting good shots."
Sammy Jo Tracy had two goals and an assist for UNC. Taylor George tallied two goals and one assist, Kara Cannizzaro scored twice and Emily Garrity dished out two assists. Jessica Griffin and Aly Messinger each scored single goals for Carolina, and Brittney Coppa added an assist.
Alyssa Leonard led Northwestern with two goals and 12 draw controls as the Wildcats won 16 of 21 draws in the game. Erin Fitzgerald, Taylor Thornton, Amanda Macaluso, Haydyn Anigian, Kelly Rich and Ali Cassera each scored one goal for Northwestern. Jess Carroll had an assist.
Carolina's pair of goalkeepers each played a half and both played well in the cage. Senior Lauren Maksym (3-1) started and played the first half, recording two saves and limited the Wildcats to four first-half goals in picking up her third victory of the year. Freshman Megan Ward played the second half and made six saves while also allowing four goals. Bridget Bianco (2-1) went the distance in the cage for the Wildcats, making six saves.
George got the scoring started in the first minute with an unassisted goal at 29:04, take the ball from right to left around the back of the cage and scoring in the top right of the net. Anigian responded less than 30 seconds later with an unassisted goal at the other end of the field. Tracy made it 2-1 Tar Heels with a free position goal at 24:07. Just over a minute later at 22:48, Friend scored unassisted for a 3-1 UNC advantage.
Messinger scored from her knees right in front of the cage off a pass from Tracy at the 22:04 mark to make it 4-1 Carolina. George's second goal came at 20:48 off a pass from Garrity, making it 5-1 Tar Heels. Tracy's second goal came at 19:31, this time off an assist from Garrity, to make it 6-1 and force a Wildcat timeout.
Cannizzaro scored unassisted with a lefthanded shot at 15:50 to make it 7-1 Tar Heels. Fitzgerald scored unassisted with a high shot at 15:05 to break the 6-0 Tar Heel run and make it 7-2. Cassera's unassisted goal at 14:15 made it 7-3. It was 7-4 after a man-up goal by Rich came at 8:52 of the first half. Neither team scored the rest of the way in the opening half. Carolina out-shot the Wildcats 13-9 and had 11 ground balls to Northwestern's six in the first 30 minutes. The Wildcats won 9 of 12 first-half draws.
Cannizzaro scored on a free position try at 25:49 of the second half to give UNC an 8-4 advantage. Thirty seconds later it was 9-4 Tar Heels after Griffin scored off a pass from George from behind the cage.
The Wildcats then went on a 3-0 run to cut it to 9-7. Thornton scored unassisted from the top of the eight-meter arc with 21:47 left to make it 9-5 Carolina, then Leonard took a pass from Carroll with 21:18 left to make it 9-6. Macaluso scored unassisted after the next draw to make it 9-7 and force a UNC timeout with 20:11 to go.
Friend stopped the Wildcat run with a goal at 15:09 off a pass from Coppa from the right of the net. Leonard responded with her second goal with 14:40 to go, making it 10-8 Tar Heels. Friend scored an unassisted goal out of the stall game with 1:13 left for an 11-8 UNC lead to ice the game.
Carolina will return to action next Saturday (March 2) at Penn.