By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/24/13
Emily Garrity (Strath Haven), Margaret Corzel (Merion Mercy) and Kelly Devlin (Downingtown East) each made major contributions as North Carolina stunned defending national champion Northwestern, 11-4, today in the semifinals of the NVAA women’s Division I championships here at Villanova University.
The Tar Heels (17-3) will play in only their second championship game Sunday night against tonight’s Syracuse-Maryland winner at 8 p.m.
Kara Cannizzaro had four goals and Abbey Friend had three tallies as North Carolina snapped Northwestern’s streak of eight consecutive appearances in the NCAA title game. The Tar Heels had been 0-4 against the Wildcats in NCAA Tournament play prior to Friday.
UNC, making its seventh appearance in the national semifinals and fourth in five years, also beat Northwestern 11-8 during the regular season on Feb. 22.
This win was made from defense – and the Philly girls were right in the middle of the success.
Garrity had five groundballs, two caused turnovers and an assist while also drawing several fouls, one that called back a Northwestern goal.
Corzel, a sophomore close defender, was part of a backline that stymied the Wildcats’ attack all day with a mixof schemes. She had one draw control.
And Devlin came off the bench to get goal and a draw control in the second half when the Tar Heels pulled away.
“I am happy with our performance,” said Garrity, the 2009 Phillylacrosse.com Player of the Year. “We can play better and we have a game left to do that. That’s our plan.”
“We were just focusing on us,” Garrity said. “Northwestern is an amazing team and we knew they would come hard. But we have been putting in the work all season and playing together is what we do best.
“It’s so cool winning a game like this this close to home,” added Corzel. “We’re obviously aware of their background and how they’ve done in past games.
“But we went into this weekend focusing on us. We didn’t focus on the storyline behind the game because the past doesn’t indicate what the future holds. It’s great to put team on the field that isn’t intimidated and that believes in ourselves enough to dominate them.”
The Tar Heels jumped out quickly and led, 4-1, at halftime, holding an opponent to one goal in a half for the third time this year. It was the 25th time in NCAA semifinal and final history that a team has scored just one goal in a half. It was the second time this season the Wildcats (19-3) had been limited to one goal in a half.
After scoring the last two goals of the first half, the Tar Heels scored the first three of the second half to take a 7-1 lead with 22:57 to play. Friend scored her third goal at 27:47 on a pass from George off a free position attempt.
Four and a half minutes later, Sammy Joe Tracy took a pass from Garrity and scored for a 6-1 UNC advantage. Devlin’s free position goal made it 7-1.
“A team like new is never going to go away,” Corzel said. “We knew we needed to put the pedal to the medal and keep it rolling.”
Northwestern scored two in a row to cut the Tar Heel lead to 7-3 with 18:55 to go, but Cannizzaro responded with back-to-back goals in a two-minute span to put Carolina back ahead 9-3. She followed with her third consecutive score at 11:57, putting back a loose ball for a 10-3 advantage. Her fourth in a row came just 22 seconds later, slipping it into the net for an 11-3 lead.
The Carolina defense was the key, Garrity said.
“We feed off of each other,” she said.”Goals are cool, but big defensive plays get us riled up.”
One play typified the day for the Tar Heels and Garrity. With her team leading, 4-1, Garrity was in perfect position while defending Kat DeRonda as she fired one into the net.
DeRonda’s follow through whacked Garrity on the head ad the goal was called back, a yellow card was assessed and soon the Heels scored to make it 5-1.
“I think I slid to the ball and stepped in front of the shot,” Garrity said. “Her follow through smacked me in the head I looked at ref and said, ‘Hello.’ I took it in stride and we came back and scored.”
“We like to switch up our defenses to keep everyone on their toes,” said Corzel. “We have a lot to offer and we like to use that. We do not want to let teams figure out what we are doing.”
Both Garrity and Corzel enjoyed coming home to play such a big game.
Garrity said it was easy to hear her mother (Margie) and father (Paul), both of whom were her coaches throughout her youth and high school career at Strath Haven.
“She and my dad are here and the fan base is all here,” said Garrity. “I always hear them. I hear my mother. I am trained to hear her voice; it’s ridiculous.
“I also had a lot of teammates from the Phantastix here. They have been my best friends through this whole process.”
Added Corzel: “I have a lot family here, as well as friends from high school and kids I went to middle school with. It was cool seeing familiar faces pop up.”
Corzel is thrilled she’ll get the chance to play for a national title, but she is keeping a good perspective.
“Being the first Tar Heels team to win a national championship would be cool but we’re just going to go into it like a regular game and focus on what we have ahead of ourselves,” she said.
Northwestern sophomore goalie Bridget Bianco (Moorestown) was the lone Philly player that saw time for the Wildcats. She made six saves and looked back on the season with mixed emotions.
“It was definitely a fun ride,” she said, “I learned a lot from Brianne LoManto last year and I think that really helped me with confidence and being able to lead the defense. But, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without my defense in front of me. They made sure my head was always up and focused.”
North Carolina SCORING: GOALS: Kara Cannizzaro 4; Abbey Friend 3; Aly
Messinger 1; Sammy Jo Tracy 1; Kelly Devlin 1; Jessica Griffin 1.
ASSISTS: Emily Garrity 1; Taylor George 1; Aly Messinger 1.
Northwestern SCORING: GOALS: DeRonda, Kat 1; Macaluso, Amanda 1; Rich,
Kelly 1; Leonard, Alyssa 1.
ASSISTS: DeRonda, Kat 1.