Late Runs Lead Tar Heels by Penn at Home
Chapel Hill, NC - There was a defensive showdown at Fetzer Field between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 17 Penn. Coming out of a 6-all tie at halftime, the Tar Heels emerged victorious after two three-goal runs late in the second half.
This was only the second game for Penn, which faced a UNC team that returned many of their starters from last year's National Championship team and brought in the top recruiting class in the country.
Both teams played a very aggressive defense and caused many turnovers on both ends of the field, especially in the midfield and on the re-defend. UNC had seven turnovers each half and Penn had six in each. The Tarheels were effective at trapping Penn on the clear and Penn handled the speed of the UNC attackers well.
Leading goal scorers for the Tarheels were Maggie Bill (4), Abbey Friend (3), and Taylor George (3). The Tarheels showed a few offensive sets, one with hard challenges, looking to draw and dump or shoot, and another sending cutters from the top and being a threat on the crease-roll from behind.
For the Quakers, offensively, they stayed spread out way past the 12-meter arc and looked to clear a lane to goal, mostly for Iris Williamson, who converted on one. Penn seemed most effective on looks to the inside, as with Tory Bensen, who scored two of her team-high three goals off assists. They were also able to finish on three out of four free-position shots, while UNC was 0-3 in that category. Credit must be given to the goalies from both teams, as Lucy Ferguson, for Penn, and Megan Ward, for UNC, came up with some big saves.
The biggest difference for these two teams was in the draw, where North Carolina was able to capture sixteen to Penn's seven, with UNC's Maggie Bill pulling in a game-high four draw controls.
Both coaches expressed a need to improve in certain areas after a close game that tested both teams early in the season.
"It wasn't our best outing. I credit Penn. They always come in well-coached, with a plan," expressed UNC Head Coach Jenny Levy, "We were out-ground-balled in the first half, significantly 15-7. I think that [we] needed to play together and not try to be heroes alone."
For Penn, having lost the draw 16-7, part of the plan was to gain possession in other ways.
"We knew we were going to struggle with the draw," expressed Penn Head Coach Karin Corbett, "We lost two to graduation and an ACL and it's hard for us right now, trying to figure out how we deal with all of that. But we know that going in and that's why were trying to create more offensive opportunities from our defense."
Though there are always things to improve, coming out of any game, there were positive takeaways for both teams.
"I think our defense did a really nice job of holding them and really played well as a group and we limited them," said Corbett, "and they couldn't get in on their challenges and we did a good job on the cuts. We had some opportunities on attack and we didn't shoot very well, because it was a one-goal game for fifty minutes, so I'm really proud of my team for that. We won ground balls [24-18] and defensively, we came up with the ball a lot and gave our attack a chance and we've got to finish a little bit better, but I was really proud of them."
For Levy, she was "happy with the win", expressing that, "this game will teach us a lot, moving forward. I think it's good to have some adversity and it pushes us to be better."
The Quakers will play Rutgers on Wednesday, March 5th at 6 PM, on their home field.
The Tarheels take to the road next weekend, as they travel to Virginia on Saturday, March 8th at 1 PM.
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