CHAPEL HILL - Third-ranked Florida scored five unanswered goals after trailing 3-0 early in the game and defeated No. 5 North Carolina, 5-3 on Saturday afternoon at Fetzer Field in the 2013 women's lacrosse season opener for both teams.
Carolina got three goals in the opening 7:25 of the game to lead 3-0, eventually leading 3-1 at halftime. Florida held Carolina scoreless for the final 52:35 of the contest to pick up the victory and improve to 1-0 this season. UNC falls to 0-1.
It was the Gators' first-ever victory over the Tar Heels after Carolina had won the first three games in the series. The two squads were meeting to open the season in Chapel Hill for the third year in a row.
"I liked how we started the game," UNC head coach Jenny Levy said afterward. "We got some good opportunities and scored some goals. But you can't win scoring three goals in the game. Give credit to Florida's goalkeeper and defense.
"We've got to get a lot better offensively, but I thought our defense did a good job. We held them to no man-up goals and five goals overall, which might end up being their lowest total all year."
Gabi Wiegand led Florida with two goals and an assist, scoring the Gators' final two goals of the day. Brittany Dashiell had a goal and an assist, and Kitty Cullen and Ashley Bruns each scored once. For the Tar Heels, Abbey Friend scored twice and Taylor George scored once. Kara Cannizzaro and Emily Garrity each dished out assists.
The first half was a low-scoring affair as both goalkeepers played well and made six saves apiece. Friend opened the scoring less than two-and-a-half minutes into the game on a free position try to make it 1-0. She scored again less than two minutes later off a caused turnover and an assist from Garrity. At 22:35, George scored off a pretty pass from Cannizzaro to make it 3-0 and force a Gator timeout.
Cullen got Florida on the board with a free position goal from the top of the arc at 20:19 of the first half, making it 3-1. Neither scored the rest of the way in the first half as Carolina led, 3-1, at the break. Lauren Maksym, who finished with 10 saves in the game, saved six of the eight shots she faced in the opening 30 minutes.
In the second half, Florida outscored Carolina 4-0. Dashiell took a pass from Wiegand and scored to cut the lead to 3-2 UNC at the 25:31 mark. Bruns scored an unassisted, extra-man goal at 18:44 to tie the score at 3-3. Wiegand then scored unassisted for Florida at 17:52 to give the Gators a 4-3 lead. Wiegand scored again off a pass from Dashiell with 10:53 to give the Gators a 5-3 lead, an advantage they would hold the rest of the game.
Maksym played all 60 minutes in the cage for Carolina and finished with 10 saves, five goals allowed and a ground ball. Florida's Mikey Meagher saw all the action in goal for Florida and recorded nine saves and three goals allowed.
Carolina will return to action next weekend with home games on Friday against Towson and Sunday against Richmond, both at Fetzer Field.