ND Women’s Lacrosse
Giacolone picks up career high in loss to Tar Heels
Tobias Hoonhout | Monday, April 3, 2017
Facing perhaps their biggest test of the season so far, the No. 13 Irish battled hard against No. 2 North Carolina at Arlotta Stadium on Sunday, but in the end fell short 16-9 as the Tar Heels maintained a perfect 7-0 lifetime record against Notre Dame.
For Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny, North Carolina’s ability to control the game is what made the difference.
“The pressure they put on teams in the ride, the relentless pressure is outstanding, and the draw game is very, very good,” she said. “That credits [UNC senior attack] Sammy Jo Tracy and [junior midfielder] Marie McCool. They do a fantastic job of coming up with the ball and kind of forcing you into a make it-take it game. Because they got into that run in the second half, that made it really difficult for us in regards to the possession game, so you have to credit them for that, winning the draw 17-10 and the score’s 16-9. That’s kind of where we see the game won and lost for us.”
The first half saw the Tar Heels (11-1, 4-0 ACC) open the scoring just 35 seconds in, as Tracy ran right down the middle of the field and beat Irish sophomore goalie Samantha Giacolone to give the Tar Heels the early lead. But Notre Dame (9-5, 3-2) responded with a methodical approach on offense, as senior captains attack Cortney Fortunato and midfielder Casey Pearsall both scored to put the Irish up by one.
UNC, who leads the ACC in goals per game, countered with three consecutive goals, leading to an Irish timeout. Pearsall scored again after the break to cut the deficit to one, but the Tar Heels answered with another to make it 5-3.
Freshman attack Jessi Masinko scored a goal, assisted by Fortunato, who then added one herself to tie the game. The Irish struggled to gain momentum, however, as North Carolina added four more to push the lead back in favor of the visitors. Senior attack Grace Muller managed to score an impressive behind-the-back shot to give the Irish a spark just before the half ended, and Fortunato had a chance from distance as the half expired, but her shot was saved to see the Irish enter halftime down 9-6.
“Offensively I think we saw some moments of really great spurts,” Halfpenny said. “Unfortunately against the style of defense they were playing, which was a little bit of denial on certain players, they limited some of the looks that we really like and I think that we got caught looking for options as opposed to taking lanes that were open, and for that we paid for.”
In the second half, UNC came out with two early goals to push the lead to five, and Fortunato answered six minutes into the half with her third goal of the game and 42nd of the season. The Irish tried to get back into the game, and both teams forced turnovers and had chances. But the next goal did not come until there were just under 11 minutes left in the game, as North Carolina captain and senior attack Molly Hendrick scored after a UNC timeout to make the score 12-7.
The Tar Heels followed with another three goals to push it to 15-7, and although the Irish called a timeout, they struggled to find the back of the net and spark the game back to life. Although midfielder Alex Dalton and attack Heidi Annaheim, both seniors, added two late goals for the Irish, UNC scored again with 37 seconds left to seal the win. The Tar Heels took more shots and won draw controls than the Irish, and despite a career performance from Giacolone, who set a career-high with 18 saves, in the end it simply was not enough.
“We got some decent possessions and some great looks; we just couldn’t quite solve it,” Halfpenny said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and work on it, but I’m excited about where this team is headed. I think we’re still figuring things out, and that’s okay, we’ll get some players back from injury in the foreseeable future, and I think that will help us with our depth, and we’ll grow from this one for sure.
We’re able to take away a lot of positives, and we have some things that we need to fix, but I’m excited for this group. It was a great opportunity today to get better, and I think we’ve identified things we want to get better at, and there’s a lot of positives.”
Notre Dame next plays Thursday in a non-conference clash with Kennesaw State in Atlanta’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium. First draw is scheduled for 1 p.m.