‘Wanting to do it again’
North Carolina defender Margaret Corzel can’t count how many times she’s seen a replay of the goal that gave the Tar Heels their first-ever NCAA title in women’s lacrosse. But the effect is always the same.
“I get chills,” Corzel said. “Every time.”
When Sammy Jo Tracy scored in triple-overtime to beat Maryland in May, it capped one of the most thrilling finishes in championship-game history. Far from being satisfied with finally reaching the pinnacle of her sport, Corzel said that the feeling of elation has provided plenty of motivation for this season.
“Once you experience that, it’s hard to not think about wanting to do it again,” Corzel said. “It’s such a great feeling and such a great way to end the year – going home, you’re on cloud nine the whole summer until you get back – so obviously everyone wants to have that (feeling) back.”
UNC’s title defense begins today when the Tar Heels host No. 4 Florida at noon.
UNC is the top-ranked team in both the media and the coaches’ polls, and the team seems well-positioned to make another deep postseason run. While the Tar Heels lost Kara Cannizzaro – who led the team in goals (61), assists (22) and ground balls (39) as a senior last season – and preseason all-America Brittney Coppa, who tore her ACL last month, they do return three of their top five scorers, the four starting defenders and all-NCAA Tournament goalie Megan Ward.
Those veterans will combine with the nation’s top-ranked freshmen class. Attacker Carly Reed, midfielders Maggie Ball and Sydney Holman and defender/midfielder Maggie Auslander were listed as four of the nation’s top eight recruits by Inside Lacrosse.
Holman led East Chapel Hill High to the 2013 state championship and set a state record with 416 goals. Her older brother Marcus just finished his UNC career as the school’s all-time leading scorer in men’s lacrosse.
UNC coach Jenny Levy said the strong freshman class will ensure that her team remains hungry.
“For them, it’s ‘Hey, we want to go make our mark, we want to do something that’s spectacular as well,’” Levy said.
After reaching the semifinals six times before last season – including three straight appearances between 2009-11 – Levy said that she’s frequently been asked to pinpoint the reason her team finally broke though in 2013. Of course, there’s no easy answer.
“For us, we’ve been there so many years in a row, just knocking on the door, knocking on the door, it finally just fell down,” Levy said. “It’s really about working every day to get better, with intent and with trying to understand how we can be the best we can be as a group.”
Nine months after winning the championship, the players are now focused on doing it again.
“It was a great experience,” preseason all-ACC attacker Abbey Friend said. “But we’re ready for this season.”