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Women’s lacrosse suffers first loss in overtime to North Carolina

The Cavaliers’ three-game winning streak to begin the season came to a close in an overtime thriller

<p>Freshman midfielder Kate Galica registered the first multi-goal game of her career Friday afternoon.</p>

Freshman midfielder Kate Galica registered the first multi-goal game of her career Friday afternoon.

Virginia women’s lacrosse faced off against North Carolina at Klöckner Stadium Friday in a heavyweight conference matchup featuring a pair of the best teams in the nation. The game exceeded expectations, the atmosphere humming with a buzz similar to a playoff game. The No. 15 Cavaliers (3-1, 0-1 ACC) fell just short in overtime as the No. 8 Tar Heels (3-1, 1-0) were able to bury a golden goal winner in overtime to win by a score of 10-9. 

North Carolina jumped out to an early lead when graduate attacker Ashley Humphrey found the back of the net a little more than a minute into the game, giving the Tar Heels an early 1-0 lead. Virginia did not lie down however, responding in kind when senior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg tied the game just three minutes later off of a feed from junior attacker Kate Miller. 

North Carolina continued to apply pressure, peppering the goal and forcing sophomore goalkeeper Mel Josephson and the rest of the defense to work hard. The Tar Heels earned a free position shot with five minutes left in the quarter, but their attempt was stonewalled by Josephson. However, Josephson’s efforts were not rewarded as North Carolina was able to convert in the run of play with freshman attacker Eva Ingrilli finishing off a feed from Humphrey. The Cavaliers did get one last attempt on goal with a minute left, but freshman attacker Jenna Dinardo’s shot hit the crossbar, leaving the score 2-1 at the end of the quarter. 

The second quarter began and looked to be controlled by Tar Heels after senior attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger scored two goals within two minutes of each other, putting the visitors up 4-1 early into the period. While Virginia was playing from behind, by no means did the game feel out of reach. Just after Wurzburger’s second goal, senior attacker Morgan Schwab was able to score to tighten the gap to two goals. Just moments after though, Humphrey once again found the back of the net, converting on a free-position shot to put North Carolina back up by three. 

About halfway through the action-packed second quarter with the Tar Heels up 5-2, freshman midfielder Kate Galica was able to score two goals, one unassisted around the eight-minute mark and the other coming three minutes later with an assist from Dinardo. In the final minute of the half, each team recorded another goal — the Cavaliers’ effort coming from Hoeg just four seconds before the period ended — which sent North Carolina to the locker room in front 6-5.

The second half began in a less exciting fashion than the second quarter, however all of the intensity still remained. It was a fierce back-and-forth of clears, missed shots and tough defense. With six minutes remaining, the Tar Heels were given another free position shot which they were able to convert to put them up 7-5. That lead didn't last long, as two and a half minutes later freshman attacker Madison Alaimo buried a shot off of a feed from Schwab to bring Virginia back to a one-point deficit. With a minute left in the third quarter, Schwab was able to break free and tie the game at seven apiece headed into the fourth quarter. 

Scoring during the final regulation period was opened by graduate midfielder Olivia Dirks, who scored a minute and a half into the period and then once more with a little over six minutes left in the game, putting North Carolina back up by two with time beginning to run out and pressure building for the Cavaliers. Coming out of a media timeout, Dinardo broke loose and made another shot to cut the lead to one.

Eventually, it came down to the last Virginia possession in regulation, and Schwab converted on a lunging attempt with 26 seconds remaining, burying her shot into the bottom corner after ending up on the ground to send the game into overtime. Despite the momentum gained from Schwab’s goal, the Tar Heels collected on the draw control in the extra period and were able to set up their offense, eventually moving the ball to a cutting Ingrilli who put in a phenomenal finish to the top left corner to end the game 10-9. 

The Cavaliers will be disappointed to lose at home, but the hosts put together a strong performance against an extremely tough team and showed tremendous perseverance throughout the entirety of the game. Coach Sonia LaMonica emphasized the team’s hard work.

“This team has tremendous fight, and I don't think that's going to go away,” LaMonica said. “The team played really tough, they did. I think we had a stout defensive effort holding a team like [North Carolina] to 10 goals. It was a really good day at the office.” 

LaMonica’s optimism about her team’s defensive effort is warranted, as Virginia has now held three of its four opponents to 10 or fewer goals in 2024. But when the Cavaliers square off against elite competition like the Tar Heels, their offensive displays will need to be stronger if they want better results.

Virginia will look to bounce back from the loss Sunday against another tough opponent in Cornell, who have won their past two games by fair margins. The game will be played at noon in Sparks, Md. at the U.S. Lacrosse Headquarters, representing a neutral site contest.


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