Carolina, Northwestern Renew Hostilities in Maryland
North Carolina and Northwestern have established one of the great rivalries in NCAA women's lacrosse in recent years. The Wildcats leads the series 10-4 overall, but the Tar Heels have won the last two, including a 11-4 victory in the 2013 NCAA semifinal. The two programs renewed pleasantries on Sunday, in a fall ball match-up at the Severn School in Annapolis. North Carolina won again, by a score of 12-6. Tar Heel senior midfielder Brittany Coppa led the team with a hat trick.
"At this point in the year, a lot of people have defenses and offenses put in. That's not our perspective. We're trying to elevate everyone's game. Obviously you want to win every time you go out on the field, scrimmage or real game, but we'd rather see the details taken care of," North Carolina coach Jenny Levy said.
Coppa got things off to a fast start, scoring just 16 seconds into the game, and the Tar Heels raced to a 6-0 lead in the first half. Northwestern junior goalie Bridget Bianco made some dazzling saves, and the Wildcats field defense included veterans like senior Kerri Harrington and transfer graduate student Kate Ivory, who played three seasons at Cornell and was the 2013 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. But North Carolina moved the ball expertly, getting goals from eight different players, including two from freshman Carly Reed, an SSSA alum who was Lacrosse Magazine's 2013 High School Player of the Year.
Sophomore Meg Ward started in goal and freshman Caylee Waters relieved her at the half. Both made multiple saves, some at close range, to the frustration of the Northwestern offense.
"I tell my shooters, look they're really good. If you're getting frustrated in practice, they're really good," Levy said.
North Carolina led 7-3 at the half, and Northwestern began the second period with more energy, closing the gap to as little as 9-7. But while the Wildcats' offense had variety – six goals from six different players – they struggled to find a consistent way to reach the goal. Four of the Wildcats' six points came as the result of free positions. Senior Kara Mupo led Northwestern with 1 goal and 1 assist.
"We talked a little bit about working as a team, making smart decisions and moving the ball. That was really key," Wildcats coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said.
Sophomore midfielder Spring Sanders was a powerful presence between the lines for Northwestern. She played sparingly as a freshman, but rededicated herself to fitness and stick work over the summer. Amonte Hiller said she has blossomed in fall ball, including Saturday's play day at Navy versus various teams and against North Carolina.
"Initially, this fall, she was still learning, but the last couple outings, things really clicked for her," she said.