The Maryland women's lacrosse team picked the perfect time to turn in its best defensive performance of the season - against No. 1 North Carolina.
The No. 3 Terrapins forced many of the Tar Heels' 14 turnovers and Terps goalie Allie Buote made 13 saves, including two in the final two minutes, to give Maryland an 8-6 win in an Atlantic Coast Conference contest yesterday at Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium.
"This is huge obviously as they sent us home last year in the [NCAA] tournament," Buote said. "It's great to beat UNC. It's even more exciting that they were No. 1 and they're a great team."
The Terps (8-1, 3-1 ACC) had allowed an average of 10.75 goals per game through their first eight games, but they had given up a lot more to ACC opponents in a 19-18 win over Duke and a 15-4 loss to Virginia. However, their defense - led by line defenders Becky Clipp, Katie Pumphrey and Jen Greenberg - came together yesterday, causing a lot of problems for a balanced Tar Heels offense.
"Our main focus was being disciplined and being smart on defense, just playing good body position," Terps coach Cathy Reese said. "I think [yesterday] overall, it was a great effort. Allie Buote made some outstanding saves and our defense forced some turnovers that we were able to take down to the other end of the field."
The Tar Heels (8-1, 1-1) came to Byrd Stadium unbeaten and quickly took a 2-0 lead, but the Terps erased that pretty quickly. After Kelly Kasper gave Maryland a 3-2 lead with 14:31 left in the half, the Terps never again trailed.
Christina Juras tied the game at 3 for Carolina with 10:32 to go, but the Terps then held the Tar Heels scoreless for almost 14 minutes while boosting their advantage to 6-4 on goals from Caitlyn McFadden, Dana Dobbie and Katie Doolittle.
Dobbie gave the Terps their biggest lead of the game, 8-4, with 13:12 to go, but the Tar Heels cut that quickly to 8-6 on back-to-back goals from Kristen Taylor.
Both teams had chances over the next few minutes before Pumphrey caused a turnover at the Tar Heels' end of the field with about eight minutes to go.
The Terps spread their offense and held the ball for nearly four minutes before the Tar Heels defenders began to challenge them.
"What we were doing was giving ourselves a chance to get organized, give our defenders a little break before we went after them," Tar Heels coach Jenny Levy said. "It was effective for sure. We ended up coming back up with the ball and having an opportunity at the other end."
The Tar Heels forced three Maryland turnovers after that and managed two shots in the final two minutes. Buote kicked away Erica LaGrow's low shot to the near corner with 1:58 left and made a point-blank stop against Meg Freshwater with 51 seconds left.
North Carolina 3 3 - 6
Maryland 4 4 - 8
Goals: NC-Juras 2, Taylor 2, Rude, J. Russell; MD-Dobbie 2, McFadden 2, Kasper, Doolittle, Pellizzi, Magor. Assists: NC-Bosica, LaGrow, Rude, Taylor; MD-Dobbie, Kasper. Saves: NC-Hordy 8; MD-Buote 13.