PITTSBURGH — In the first ACC game of their inaugural season, Pitt lacrosse played tough with No. 2 UNC, but were unable to get the victory, losing 15-5, Thursday afternoon at Highmark Stadium.
The Panthers (3-1 overall, 0-1 ACC) were outshot by the Tarheels (4-0 overall, 1-0 ACC), 34-13 overall and 29-10 on goal. They also had less draw controls, 19-5, and ground balls, 18-10, while committing more turnovers, 17-11, than the Tarheels.
Panthers head coach, Emily Boissoneault, said that she wants her team to be better on draw controls and getting the ball to the offense than they did today, but also recognized the quality of the Tarheels makes it harder to execute that game plan than in their first three games, which ended in wins for her squad.
“I think the biggest positives are that we fought harder in the second half and that’s something that I really was not sure what this team was going to do when they were losing,” Boissoneault said. “We haven’t been in that situation. So to be losing but continue to fight, I think we did a better job on draw controls, limiting shots and I think that’s a great positive to know that we have the fight to play with the best of them.”
A closely contested first quarter, both teams created good chances and played staunch defensively, with UNC taking just a 3-1 lead.
Pitt kept North Carolina at least within one for almost the entirety of the first quarter, before UNC got the third goal with three seconds left to create separation. Fifth year attackers, Jamie Ortega and Scottie Rose Growney, scored the first three goals, with Ortega scoring the first two and Growney getting the third.
Pitt sophomore midfielder Katie Elam scored the first goal for her team in the first quarter, making it her tenth goal this season.
The Tarheels took control in the second quarter and managed to cut out any chance of a Pitt comeback from then on. They outscored the Panthers, 4-1 in the period to take a 7-2 lead into halftime with scoring Growney scoring two of those goals. Junior attacker Melissa Sconone assisted four of the Tarheels’ goals in the first half.
Pitt junior attacker Carlie Leach scored the next two goals for her team, one at the end of the second quarter and one at the beginning of the third quarter, to cut the lead to 8-3.
North Carolina responded by scoring the next four goals to lead 12-3 at the end of the third quarter.
The Panthers would battle hard with the Tarheels throughout the final period, with Leach completing her hat trick and graduate attacker Paige Petty scoring the fifth goal.
UNC still had control of the game, with Growney scoring her fourth goal, Dirks completing her hat trick and graduate attacker Sam Geisersbach scoring the fifteenth and final goal.
Panthers graduate goalie, Paulina Difatta, had a season high in saves against the Tarheels with 14 and also the most shots faced with 34. Defatta was proud of the Panthers’ performance and said that even at halftime, the team was like “a family” and that everyone stepped up and kept it going, despite being down.
“I think we did really great tonight,” Difatta said. “We just have to finish our shots. The coaches did an amazing job in scouting them and we can only just learn from here and move up.”
Pitt will go on the road to take on Canisius in Buffalo, N.Y. this Sunday Feb. 27, at noon, looking to get back to winning ways.