Molly Dougherty

JMU goalkeeper Molly Dougherty won First Team All-CAA honors last season.

In its first official game since winning the national championship in 2018, JMU lacrosse fell on the road to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in a one-sided affair, 18-7.

The Tar Heels, who lost to James Madison twice last season — 15-14 (2 OT) in last year’s season opener and 15-12 in the national semifinals — started off the game hot behind four goals in the first six minutes of play.

Freshman attacker Jamie Ortega, in her first career game, scored her first two goals in a matter of 33 seconds. Ortega would finish with a game-high five goals.

JMU struggled to find anything on offense early on, as UNC won the first six draw controls of the afternoon and held the Dukes without possession for the opening seven minutes of the game. Two goals from junior attacker Maddie McDaniel would get JMU on the board, but by the time another member of the purple and gold recorded a score — from sophomore midfielder Daria Lucchesi — the Dukes were already down 8-3 and went into the half down by six, 9-3.

While JMU struggled to get possession of the ball in the early portions of the first half, stellar play from UNC sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Moreno saved her team with four key saves and one on a free-position shot. Moreno would finish with 10 saves off 17 shots on goal.

The Dukes had more success in the second half, going on a 4-2 run in the middle portion of the second half. Junior attacker Logan Brennan had two goals in the second half, and JMU’s returning leading scorer in senior attacker Hanna Haven notched her first goal of the season with 11:44 left to play to cut the gap to seven.

That was as close as it’d get, however, as a 4-0 run from the Tar Heels would close things out in a comfortable win to begin their season. UNC had clear advantages in time of possession, total shots, free-position goals and draw controls.

JMU will look to pull to .500 early on in the year this Wednesday when it travels to Blacksburg to take on No. 14 Virginia Tech, a rematch of a 2018 bout that saw the Dukes win 16-11. First whistle is set for 4 p.m. and will be available for streaming on ESPN3.

Contact the sports desk at breezesports@gmail.com. For more lacrosse coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.