JMU lacrosse lost to No. 2 UNC 15-7 in its first game of the season on Saturday at Sentara Park.
Although JMU won the first draw of the game, UNC got the game started when midfielder Ally Mastroianni scored the first goal of the contest. Freshman Nicole Humphrey added to UNC’s lead once again less than six minutes after Mastroianni’s goal.
JMU made it on the board when junior Charlotte Haggerty scored on a free position shot. Haggerty went on to score two more goals for the Dukes and earn her first career hat trick.
Haggerty said that during a “stagnant” first 10 minutes, the team focused on finding themselves. Once the Dukes did, she said, they focused on “trying to manipulate the defense” and “spread out [our] offense.”
JMU freshman Isabella Peterson played in her first career game, and ended it with a goal.
“[Isabella] did awesome,” Haggerty said. “Coming in as a freshman and starting is an awesome accomplishment.”
JMU head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe also commended Peterson, saying she earned a starting position in today’s starting lineup after proving to be a “clear threat” in practices. She also said she thinks Saturday’s start was a “wake-up call [for Peterson] as to how physical this game is and what defensive units at this level can do.”
At the end of the first half, JMU trailed UNC, 7-2. Going into the second half, UNC pulled its goalie, junior Taylor Moreno, and started redshirt freshman Kimber Hower. Haggerty said the goalie change “didn’t change our mentality.” JMU scored three goals on Hower before Moreno was placed back in goal for the remainder of the game.
JMU received three yellow cards in the second half, all of which UNC was able to capitalize on. The Tar Heels managed to use the advantage and score, growing their lead.
JMU goalie Molly Dougherty saved 19 out of UNC’s 34 shots on goal. Dougherty said she “didn’t think too much into it” as UNC continued to score in order to keep herself mentally in the game.
“I really can’t do anything without them,” Dougherty said about her teammates. “I really wouldn’t want to get in the goal without the seven people that I have in front of me.”
Although the Dukes lost to the Tar Heels, players like Haggerty and Dougherty said they’re proud of their performance against the No. 2 team in the country. JMU beat UNC in draw controls, 13-11 and won ground balls, 18-17.
“We know how to play this, [we] know that we can do it,” Haggerty said of facing the Tar Heels.
Klaes-Bawcombe was also proud of her team’s performance Saturday.
“I think UNC played almost a perfect game,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “We showed defensively that we can hold a top opponent and disrupt what they’re trying to do.”
Dougherty also praised the Dukes’ defense today, “We showed we can stick together as a group through defense to offense.”
As the team looks forward to the rest of the season, there are certain things they want to address. Haggerty said she thinks the team needs to make sure they aren’t stagnant on the field, saying they sometimes aren’t aggressive enough with attacking the ball.
Klaes-Bawcombe said that although the team got the shots they wanted against UNC, they couldn’t capitalize like the Tar Heels did. She also said that a lot of the shots we aimed right at the goalie’s feet, making them easy for the goalie to save and harder for the Dukes to score.
“That’s something we can control,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “This team is really hungry and willing to put the work in.”
JMU plays Virginia Tech on Wednesday, February 12 at 5 PM at Sentara Park.
Contact Courtney Ryder at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more lacrosse coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.