The Liberty women's lacrosse team opened the 2012 season Wednesday, by facing its toughest opponent in program history, as No. 3 ranked North Carolina defeated the Lady Flames 19-3 at the Liberty Lacrosse Field.
Liberty falls to 0-1 with the season-opening loss, while the Tar Heels improve to 2-0.
Redshirt freshman Morgan Becker provided two of Liberty's three goals on the day in her first career game. The Round Hill, Va., native missed all of 2011 due to injury. Freshman Caroline Milwicz provided the Lady Flames' other tally. Karis Walborn collected one assist for Liberty.
Abbey Friend paced the Tar Heels with four goals on the afternoon, to back up her season-opening performance where she had three goals against No. 4 Florida. Becky Lynch, Laura Zimmerman, Brittney Coppa and Lindsay Scott each contributed a pair of markers for the visitors. Paige Hanson, Kara Cannizzaro, Sam McGee, Morgan Rubin, Jessica Griffin, Emily Garrity and Paula Schmidt each found the back of the net once apiece. Ten of North Carolina's 19 goals were created with an assist, with Hanson and Lynch each picking up three on the afternoon.
The Tar Heels posted their first goal of the contest just 1:06 into the game, striking on a cut from the right wing by Coppa.
The next score wouldn't come quite as easily though, as Lady Flame goalkeeper Kristen Masullo saved three Tar Heel shots in a two-minute span. Friend then found the back of the net on her own drive, scoring at the 23:04 mark.
After another nearly five-minute stretch of scoreless action, Lynch scored a pair of goals within the 12th minute of play, putting UNC up 4-0.
Milwicz posted Liberty's first score of 2012 under a minute later, at the 17:01 mark. Cutting across the middle of the lane from the right side of the field, the Fallston, Md., native shot across her body to put the Lady Flames on the board.
However, the Tar Heels stretched the advantage to 10 with seven goals in a nine-minute span. Zimmerman posted the first score of the rally at the 14:17 mark in the first half to ignite the run.
The final goal of the opening half came from Liberty's Becker, which cut the deficit to nine, at 11-2. Walborn provided the assist, finding her teammate who had filtered through the North Carolina defense.
While North Carolina rocketed off 24 shots in the first half, Masullo blocked away nine attempts to help the Lady Flames keep the deficit in single digits. The Lady Flames were able to convert on two of their five shots in the first half, with UNC's Lauren Maksym posting two saves.
The Tar Heels posted three more goals in the opening seven minutes of the first half to open up a 12-goal advantage, 14-2. Friend notched her final two goals of the contest in the stretch, while Cannizzaro's fifth marker of the season served as the other goal.
Becker then posted Liberty's final goal of the contest, firing a shot past Britt Giacco, who minded the net for the Tar Heels in the second half.
North Carolina closed the game with five more goals, en route to the 19-3 victory. Four different Tar Heels scored in the game-closing run, with Scott claiming two of the markers.
The visitors outshot Liberty by a 39 to 13 margin and held the statistical advantages in ground balls (20-12) and draw controls (15-9), in addition to posting a near-perfect clear percentage, converting on 12 of 13 attempts.
Masullo finished the game with 13 saves, the fourth time she has done so in her career. North Carolina's goalkeepers combined for five saves on the afternoon.
Next, the Lady Flames travel to Easton, Pa., to face Lafayette on Saturday. Game time is slated for 1 p.m.