Tar Heels Getting Results, Not Impressive Statistics
|Kara Cannizzaro has an impressive
35 goals, but North Carolina's team statistics are largely
© Peyton Williams
Second-ranked North Carolina is dominating on the field, if not exactly in the box scores.
While the Tar Heels are 11-1, they don't rank in the top 10 in any major statistical category. They are 13th in scoring defense (8.17 goals per game), 28th in scoring offense (12.33), 53rd in draw controls (11.67) and 64th in caused turnovers (7.33).
"We have a lot of grit on this team," North Carolina senior goalie Lauren Maksym said. "If it's ugly, if it's pretty, we're still going to get the win."
North Carolina has gritted out a trio of one-goal wins over ACC foes Virginia and Duke, and withstood a shaky second half to hold off Ivy League upstart Cornell, 11-10. After a bizarre start to the season, in which North Carolina lost to Florida 5-3 after getting shut out for the last 52 minutes of the game, the Tar Heels have coalesced into a stronger unit.
They don't have numbers that jump off the page, but they are a balanced team that makes the most of its matchups. There's no go-to draw ace, but three different players (Sammy Jo Tracy, Jessica Griffin and Emily Garrity) have at least 17 draw controls. Senior attacker Kara Cannizzaro (35 goals) is the heart of the offense, but five other players have at least 20 points. The loss of Becky Lynch and Laura Zimmermann doesn't seem as acute anymore.
"We're just working hard to say, 'We're still good, we're still here.' Rome wasn't built in a day," Maksym said.
Maksym, who has started every game since her sophomore year, is a big part of North Carolina's success with .461 save percentage and 7.07 goals against average. She's reaped the benefits of having former Tar Heels goalie Logan Ripley back on campus this season as a volunteer assistant coach.
"I'm just very happy to go to practice every day and see those results and be working with her," Maksym said. "It's phenomenal to have a goalie coach, especially one who played at UNC. She gets everything. It's awesome."
North Carolina is preparing for its biggest game of the season, a visit to top-ranked Maryland on Saturday. The No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup will feature a pair of strong, fast midfields going toe-to-toe.
The priority for Maksym and the defense is shutting down Terps attacker Alex Aust, who is the current national points leader with 43 goals and 38 assists. Aust will likely draw a faceguard from Tar Heels junior Sloane Serpe or sophomore Caileigh Sindall.
Last year, the Tar Heels split their games with Maryland, winning 14-11 in the regular season and then falling 14-10 in the ACC tournament. A win against the Terps would make North Carolina the top team in the country, although victories are tough to come by in College Park. Maryland has won 49 of its last 50 home games.
"We're mainly focusing on what we're going to do, and how we're going to make a statement," Maksym said.