Coming off three straight losses to high-quality opponents, the women’s lacrosse team faced its toughest challenge yet when it took on No. 2 North Carolina (9-1, 1-0 ACC) at home on Saturday. But on a day that was all about green, Georgetown was money, coming from behind to stun UNC, 9-8, and gain a huge confidence- and resume-builder.
Trailing 8-5 with 15 minutes left, the Hoyas (3-3, 1-0 Big East) buckled down defensively and pressed hard on the offensive end to come up with a 4-0 run to finish the game. The game-winning shot came courtesy of All-American junior midfielder Sophia Thomas, who was quiet for much of the game but made an impact when her team most needed it, providing Georgetown with its first lead of the game with less than three minutes to play.
Sophomore goalie Barb Black and the well-organized GU defense in front of her helped to ensure that the advantage would stand. The Hoyas won the faceoff after Thomas’s go-ahead goal and proceeded to burn the next two minutes with some nifty possession work. A North Carolina free position with three seconds remaining, though, gave the visitors a final shot at tying the score.
“I think at that point, it was just kind of all-or-nothing,” Black said. “Free positions have kind of been a tough subject for me recently this season, but I knew that if I just focused on the ball, I’d be all right.”
She was much more than just all right. Black’s quick-reaction kick-save parried the ball onto the post, where it ricocheted harmlessly away and sealed the win for the Hoyas.
“I think today was a big day for [Black] personally,” Georgetown Head Coach Ricky Fried said. “She’s got the physical ability, and today she showed the mental ability to stay calm and composed in tight situations.”
Coming off a loss to Johns Hopkins last Wednesday in which the Blue and Gray allowed 10 goals in the first half alone, the eight total goals is a major step forward, especially given the quality of the opponent.
“We changed up our defensive game plan for this game,” Black said. “We did play a lot more of an aggressive, pressure-out style, but [with] Carolina being such a fast team, we knew that we would have to kind of pack it in a little bit and rely more on our strength and our help defense.”
It wasn’t all about the defense for the Hoyas, though, as the team also recorded a much-improved 50 percent (9-18) shooting mark. Interestingly, this game marked the first time this season that the Hoyas were outshot. But as Fried explained, this result can be attributed to a more deliberate, selective offensive strategy.
“I think the biggest thing is [that] we wanted to make sure we had really, really good opportunities, not just an opportunity to shoot the ball. We wanted to be really picky about when we took shots,” Fried said.
Midfielder Hannah Franklin had a career day for the Hoyas, accounting for four of the team’s goals on the afternoon. The sophomore tallied Georgetown’s first two goals of the game to open things up offensively and played a big role in the team’s second-half comeback with another crucial pair of scores.
While the win against UNC was huge, Fried was far from complacent.
“I’m not sure what the stats are, but it’s probably the first time in a while [that] we’ve beaten a top-three team, and [the team] can only hear us say that we should be able to do that for [so long],” Fried said. “They actually have to do it to get that confidence, and I think today will go a long way in that regard.”
The Blue and Gray will look to keep their momentum going Wednesday night, when the Hoyas head to Philadelphia to take on the University of Pennsylvania. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.