On a day more suited to the Polar Bear Plunge than a lacrosse game, the No. 4 Loyola women put the big chill on No. 10 North Carolina's attack yesterday.
The Greyhounds limited the Tar Heels to six first-half shots and continued to clamp down for a 10-4 victory with the temperature hovering in the mid-30s at Curley Field.
Suzanne Eyler and Rachel Shuck led the Loyola attack with four points each as the Greyhounds built a 10-2 lead with 6:05 left. Eyler, a senior All-American, scored two of her four goals and Shuck scored one in a 4-0 Loyola run that broke the game open in the middle of the second half.
But everyone gave credit to the defense for the win.
"Defense did it," said Loyola coach Diane Geppi-Aikens. "We knew if we could rattle them and hold them, they would have a little bit of trouble, and that's exactly what happened."
The Greyhounds (2-0) allowed only two Tar Heels goals until the final 2:18 of the game. Junior starting goalie Kim Lawton faced little action, making two saves, and freshman Cindy Nicolaus made seven second-half saves.
A veteran defense - seniors Marianne Gioffre and Jen Albright and juniors Tara Singleton and Kourtney Porcella - kept the young Tar Heels off balance.
"We knew they were going to one-v-one a lot," said Gioffre, "and we knew they were going to work a little bit on the inside, so a lot of the game plan was to keep a body on them."
The Tar Heels (1-2) start three freshmen on attack. One of them, Melissa McCarthy, scored the first goal for the Heels to tie it at 1, but North Carolina often struggled to hold onto the ball, committing 17 turnovers.
Loyola converted three of those turnovers into goals to take a 4-1 halftime lead.
The Tar Heels made a lot of mistakes, and not all of them were directly caused by the Loyola defense. The North Carolina defense, anchored by Andy Fortino, Jazmine Norton and Meghan Kelly, did a good job holding Loyola to four first-half goals, but the Tar Heels did not pass well or run their attack with precision.
"We hurt ourselves," said Carolina sophomore attacker Allison Higgins. "We didn't possess the ball very well, but Loyola did a great job on sliding and playing tough D. We just didn't capitalize on attack, which really hurt us in the end."
North Carolina had a chance to make up ground quickly late in the game with six free position shots in the final 14:39, but the Tar Heels hit just one and Nicolaus snared four. North Carolina finished 2-for-11 on free-position attempts.
"That killed us. You nail just 50 percent of those and it becomes a one- or two-goal game," said Carolina coach Jenny Slingluff-Levy, whose team outshot Loyola 22-19. "We're telegraphing our shots and we're not going hard enough in. We've got a lot of growing up to do in a short while."
North Carolina 1 3 - 4
Loyola 4 6 - 10
Goals: NC-McCarthy, Quattrone, Higgins, Dieringer; L-Eyler 4, Shuck 3, Walker, Shacklock, Tyrrell. Assists: NC-McCarthy; L-Shuck, Korrow. Saves: NC-Garafalo 9; L-Lawton 2, Ci.Nicolaus 7.