NU scores late to win opener at No. 6 North Carolina (Lacrosse)

Nina Mandell

Facing a 5-2 deficit at halftime against No. 6 North Carolina on Sunday, Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller knew her team needed something extra to get out the first-game jitters and prove why her squad was the third-ranked team in the country.

She switched the Wildcats to a more aggressive defense, and the team found its offensive flow.

NU (1-0) scored four consecutive goals in the second half.

With 2:24 left in the game, the Cats still hadn’t found a way to get on top when Lindsey Munday was fouled and given an eight meter shot. She scored what would be the game winner and broke the 5-5 tie with North Carolina (0-1).

For the junior midfielder, who is already sixth on NU’s all-time scoring list, the goal that gave the Cats a 6-5 win at North Carolina on Sunday proved to be nothing but an easy point.

“I didn’t really think about it as (a chance to win the game),” she said. “It was just a regular shot.”

The back of the net proved to be elusive for NU’s offense in the beginning of the game.

While the Cats grabbed 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Tar Heels went on a 4-0 scoring run in the last eight minutes of the first half.

Hiller said her team’s defense stayed strong throughout the game. But she added that the Cats’ offense finding its flow put the game in their control.

“We played well defensively,” she said. “I think we struggled a little on attack. (In the first half) we were being a little timid, a little predictable. We worked on that in the second half and that made all the difference.”

After halftime, NU’s offense took some pressure off its defense by keeping the ball on North Carolina’s end of the field. Munday and Kristen Kjellman led the Cats with two goals each, while Donna McCann and Laura Glassanos added one each.

Munday also had two assists, as did senior Sarah Albrecht. Glassanos had one assist.

NU outshot North Carolina 33-16 but scored only one more goal than the Tar Heels. Hiller gave North Carolina goalie Kristen Hordy credit for keeping NU’s attack at bay.

The sophomore had 15 saves against the Cats — something Munday said highlighted one of NU’s offensive weaknesses as a result of first-game nerves.

“We need to play our game,” she said. “We need to move the ball, pass the ball, shoot it around the goalie. Some of the little things weren’t adding up, but it was good to get all the jitters out.”

Reach Nina Mandell at [email protected].