staff, May 16, 2015

The No. 7 Nittany Lion women?s lacrosse team saw its season end in the NCAA Quarterfinals as No. 2 North Carolina used a 7-0 second-half run to defeat Penn State, 11-8, at Fetzer Field on Saturday afternoon. UNC moves on to the NCAA Semifinals to face No. 3 Duke.

?Overall, I think our team did an awesome job (this season),? said head coach Missy Doherty. ?We had so many injuries that we only ran one sub today, and in a game like this with the weather and how good UNC is, it?s really tough. So I think we ran out of gas a little bit there in the second half.?

For the first time all season, Penn State (16-5) was unable to hold a halftime lead as North Carolina (17-3) maintained possession and rallied by PSU. After opening an 8-4 lead with 28:47 left in the game, the Tar Heels reeled off seven straight goals to reach the NCAA Semifinals.

Maggie McCormick (Eldersburg, Md.) and Madison Cyr (Westminster, Md.) paced the Nittany Lion offense with a pair of goals, while goalkeeper Emi Smith (Denver, Colo.) made nine saves against a potent UNC offense.

Trailing 3-1 with 17 minutes to go, Penn State scored six of the next eight goals to open an 8-4 lead early in the second half. Exact free-position shooting by Kristin Brent (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), McCormick and Cyr gathered Penn State?s first lead, 4-3, with 9:48 remaining in the first half.

For Brent, she scored in her career-high fifth straight game, while becoming PSU?s 10th double-digit scorer this season.

Jess Loizeaux (Mullica Hill, N.J.) continued the run 75 seconds later, putting away a Cyr pass by drawing the goalie out of the crease and depositing the ball into the empty net for a 5-3 advantage. McCormick and Loizeaux both tallied their first goals since April 19 in a win at Northwestern. The Lions connected on five of their first seven shot attempts.

Four minutes later, McCormick extended the lead to 6-3 on a feed from Katie O?Donnell (West Chester, Pa.) with 4:18 remaining. UNC briefly cut its deficit to two at 1:52, but Cyr took an Ally Heavens (Garnet Valley, Pa.) assist 23 seconds later for a 7-4 lead.

The three-goal cushion at halftime matched UNC?s largest deficit of the season at the break, which occurred Feb. 22 at No. 1 Maryland, a 13-11 loss.

Penn State held a 15-0 record entering the second half with a lead and PSU?s lead grew to four when Tatum Coffey (Toms River, N.J.) scored her team-leading 43rd goal of the season with 28:47 remaining. It would be the final goal Penn State.

UNC cut into the lead with tallies at 26:58, 22:33, 20:45 and 19:19 to pull even. The Tar Heels dominated the circle, 8-1, in draw controls in the second half, thus controlling possession and the pace of play.

?I thought our offense was fantastic when we were able to get the ball down to our end.? said Doherty. ?We were only down there maybe three times in the second half and our defense came up with some great stops, too. We can?t play defense for the whole half.?

Sydney Holman regained North Carolina?s lead with 17:04 remaining on an unassisted tally, her third goal of the day. She?d add her fourth with 8:40 to go for a 10-8 advantage and she?d assist on Sammy Jo Tracy?s second tally with 7:22 remaining. The Tar Heels out-shot Penn State 13-3 in the second half.

For the game, UNC held statistical advantages in shots (29-14), ground balls (19-13) and draw controls (15-6). Penn State had trouble clearing the ball, going 10-for-16 in the game, including 5-for-10 in the opening half. Penn State was a perfect 3-for-3 from the 8-meter, but didn?t get an attempt in the second half.

Penn State committed 10 turnovers to UNC?s nine, while Smith?s nine saves were better than UNC?s five split between goaliesCaylee Waters and Megan Ward.

Carolina improved to 10-3 all-time against Penn State, denying the Lions? first trip to the NCAA Semifinals since 1999. Despite the loss, Penn State claimed the inaugural Big Ten Tournament title and won 16 games for the first time since 1989, while reaching the NCAA Quarterfinals for the third time in four years.