Top-seeded North Carolina Advances Past Virginia Tech, 18-12

Tar Heels turn back Virginia Tech, 18-12, in Thursday’s opener

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (theACC.org) – Top-seeded North Carolina responded to eighth-seeded Virginia Tech’s challenge.

After trailing much of the first half and holding just a one-goal lead at intermission, the Tar Heels eased away for an 18-12 victory Thursday in the opening quarterfinal game of the 2015 Atlantic Coast Women’s Lacrosse Championship at Klockner Stadium.

Senior Kelly Devlin led UNC with a career-high four goals, three of which came in the second half. Sydney Holman scored three goals while assisting on three others, and Maggie Bill added a hat trick for the Tar Heels (14-2).

All-ACC attack Megan Will scored three goals – all in the first half – for the Hokies (6-11), and fellow senior Meg Bartley also had a hat trick.

The nationally second-ranked Tar Heels  will carry a six-game winning streak into Friday’s 1 p.m. semifinal matchup against the winner of Thursday’s second quarterfinal game between fourth-seeded Virginia and fifth-seeded Notre Dame. UNC improved to 21-0 all-time versus Virginia Tech with Thursday’s win, including a pair of victories this season.

UNC led 8-7 at the end of a first half that proved a study in contrasts in scoring production. Virginia Tech’s Will already had her hat trick by intermission, while seven different players scored the Tar Heels’ first seven goals. 

The first UNC player to score multiple goals – junior attack Aly Messinger – connected for her second score with one second showing on the first-half clock to provide the Tar Heels with their halftime edge.

UNC outshot the Hokies 24-10 in the first half, and Virginia Tech keeper Meagh Graham already had 10 saves at the break. She finished with 12 for the game.

Messinger, Carly Reed and Marie McCool all finished with two goals for the Tar Heels. McCool also scooped up four ground balls and caused a pair of turnovers.

QUOTES

UNC Head Coach Jenny Levy

On the difference between the 1st and 2nd half:
“The biggest difference between the two halves is that shots started falling in the second half. I thought Meg Ward and Caylee Waters did a nice job of coming in and making saves. They scored 7 of their 9 shots in the first half, and that is not something that Caylee (Waters) has done much, but she will be better tomorrow. We don’t lack any confidence in her, but I also think that shooters had their hands free and had nice shots. We were happy with the effort today. I thought we were sloppy in a lot of places and obviously tomorrow is a new day and we will play a lot better tomorrow than we did today.”

VT Head Coach Megan Bruker

On the game:
“Overall I was very proud with our fight and how we stuck to our game plan. What I left the team with is that we have to strengthen our skill work so that we can really battle in those moments. Some of the 50/50 balls and draws in the second half really gave UNC some momentum and we need to learn to step up and take it back in that moment then and there.”

On the difference between the 1st and 2nd half:
“Honestly I thought we were a little more settled at the beginning of the second half, but I think UNC stepped it up, made plays, and really took care of the momentum. Those one, two, three goal runs were where we really fell behind and couldn’t get back into the game. That was the biggest difference in the second half. 

On Meg Graham’s career high saves in a game:
“I thought Meg had a fantastic game. She really stepped up in the first half and kept us in the game so we could come up with some good offensive opportunities. I think overall we are trying to teach these lessons to our younger kids and show them that we can be a strong program. This is how we initiate change and get ready to come back next year to take someone down.”

On Meg Graham’s effect on the game’s momentum:
“I think she was huge. Coming up with a big save when you’ve had a big defensive stand there’s nothing better. It uplifts the whole team and it gives you more offensive opportunities when you’re not winning the draws. It was a huge help to keep us in the game and change the momentum in our favor.”

On Megan Will’s game:
“Megan has battled all season long and for four years. She is someone who has raised the pace in our program. She has helped change our offense by making it more dynamic and has helped us battle against top teams in the country. I am happy for her to have that honor. It’s a testament to her career and impact on our team.”