No. 9 Virginia women’s lacrosse received their first loss of the season at the hands of North Carolina Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Cavaliers (6-1, 2-1 ACC) got off to a fast start, but the Tar Heels’ (6-0, 3-0 ACC) offensive weapons took control of the game in the second half en route to a 17-12 victory.
North Carolina got on the board first after it won the opening draw control. After gaining possession, junior midfielder Sophie Student scored her first goal of the game less than a minute into the action. However, Virginia would respond when senior midfielder Jaime Biskup scored off of an endline restart to tie the game 1-1.
With about 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter, sophomore attacker Rachel Clark would score her first of three straight goals. After her second, North Carolina scored two in a row to take the lead back, 4-3. Clark then scored her third, followed by a free-position shot from senior midfielder Kiki Shaw, and an athletic finish by graduate student attacker Ashlyn McGovern.
The Cavaliers led at the end of the first quarter 6-5, but would not lead the rest of the game. From then on, the Tar Heels showed why they are a unanimous top team in the country.
In the second quarter, North Carolina had a balanced attack that regained control of the lead. Four different players scored five goals for the Tar Heels, with freshman attacker Caroline Godine the lone player who scored multiple times in the period.
Virginia would stick with North Carolina throughout the quarter as Biskup and McGovern each scored their second goal to make the score 10-8 headed into halftime.
North Carolina came out hot in the second half, scoring three consecutive goals to give them a five-goal advantage. This run did not deter the Cavaliers as they responded with a 2-0 run which was kickstarted by a free position shot from Shaw followed by Clark’s fourth goal of the game.
The run continued into the fourth quarter when McGovern scored back-to-back goals to bring the deficit to within one with less than five minutes remaining, silencing the crowd of 2,603 in Chapel Hill. The home team was now in danger of losing its first game since the 2021 NCAA Championship.
Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the Tar Heels closed the game with a 4-0 run of their own to seal the game. North Carolina dominated the draw controls to close the game, not allowing Virginia to gain a possession, effectively ending the game.
Although the squad took its first loss of the season, Virginia showed a lot of grit throughout the game. Last time the Cavaliers faced the Tar Heels, they lost 24-2 in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Closing the deficit to within one with less than five minutes remaining is encouraging for the Cavaliers as they enter deeper into ACC play. Having already played the No. 1 ranked team in the country should provide confidence against lower-ranked teams that Virginia will face.
The Cavaliers return to action Wednesday when they face off against in-state foe No. 25 Richmond at Robins Stadium in Richmond. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.