Posted: 03/06/2012 | Last updated: March 6, 2012 at 07:29 PM
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team hung tough against the #2 nationally ranked Tar Heels, trailing by only two at the half before North Carolina (7-0) exploded in the second to down the Mountain Hawks (2-3), 16-8, on Tuesday. Lehigh stayed within two for the entire first half before the explosive UNC offense caught fire. Seniors Lauren Murray and Leigh Ann Torcivia, and freshman Kelsey Yenco scored two goals apiece for the Mountain Hawks.
“We thought it was a very strong effort by the team,” said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern. “We played hard until the end. We played together and according to our game plan. We got a little unlucky at times, but it was a very competitive game.”
The Mountain Hawks played neck-and-neck against a North Carolina team that outscored its opponents by an average margin of 9.33 over its first six games in posting a perfect 6-0 record. Lehigh held a potent offense to only five first-half goals, this for a squad that averages 16 per contest.
“We’re closing in on some of our potential,” said Redfern. “We got better by playing in this game. Our ultimate goal is to get better and move forward each game.”
Junior Julie McBrien and sophomore Julie Tatios added the other goals for Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks erased early 1-0 and 2-0 deficits to tie the score at two following a Torcivia score at 19:00 of the first half. The Tar Heels responded with three straight goals before Murray ended a 15:59 scoreless drought, pulling Lehigh within 5-3 with 3:01 on the clock. That score stood at halftime.
UNC began to catch fire in the second, scoring the first five goals before the half was 10 minutes hold, making it 10-3 with 21:59 to go. After Murray’s second goal of the game, the Tar Heels went on to open a 13-4 lead, but the Mountain Hawks responded with three of the next four goals, which included two from Yenco, to pull within 14-7 with 10:04 to go.
The teams traded goals the rest of the way for the 16-8 final.
North Carolina held a 24-21 edge in shots and 21-7 in groundballs, but the Mountain Hawks dominated draw controls, 19-7, including 14-3 in the second half. McBrien and Yenco each posted six draw controls, one game after freshman Carli Sukonik had six against Robert Morris. That tied for the most draw controls by any Lehigh player over the past six seasons.
“Draw controls are an intensity stat and to see two of our players get six apiece, it shows a dominating effort on their part,” said Redfern. “It really jump-started our whole team.”
Senior MaryLeah DiNisco made six saves for Lehigh (four in the first half) across a trio of UNC goalkeepers who combined for six as well.
Laura Zimmerman paced the Tar Heel offense with six points via five goals and an assist.
Lehigh will head to Colgate Saturday for its Patriot League opener against the Raiders. Opening draw is set for 1 p.m.