CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The No. 19 Navy women’s lacrosse team (18-3) fell to No. 5 North Carolina (15-3), 14-7, in the NCAA First Round at Fetzer Field on Saturday. North Carolina will advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals against the winner of Syracuse-Dartmouth. Navy’s best season in its five-year history comes to a close.
“I am so proud of the Navy women’s lacrosse team,” head coach Cindy Timchal said. “We were ready to compete and we were ready to run towards victory today. We had a great start with Jasmine [DePompeo] leading the way offensively and Michelle [Verbeeck] coming up with big saves on the defensive end.
“It was a tough day for us and we do have to credit the outstanding play of the University of North Carolina today. We had some good looks and good scoring opportunities and I thought our players played tough the whole way through and I’m proud of how hard this team has worked.”
Timchal made her 24th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which is the most in women’s lacrosse history.
Junior attacker Jasmine DePompeo (Sayville, N.Y.) led Navy with four goals and one assist for a team-high five points, the best single-game output for Navy in its three NCAA Tournament games.
Navy battled with North Carolina early in the game, but the Tar Heels pulled away with a 5-0 run that spanned 16 minutes in the first half.
The Tar Heels opened the game’s scoring just 28 seconds in when Laura Zimmerman scored off a feed from Taylor George. But DePompeo responded a minute-and-a-half later on a free-position goal to put the Mids on the board.
Zimmerman tallied her second of the game just 19 seconds later for a 2-1 lead.
DePompeo then made a great move coming around the back of the net and firing on goal to even the game at 2-2. Two minutes later DePompeo drove down the right side of the field and fired a rocket in net the beat the Tar Heel goalie to put the Mids up 3-2 with 23:54 remaining in the first half. DePompeo needed just over six minutes to register her 19th career hat trick.
North Carolina then used its 5-0 run to take control of the game, with senior attacker Becky Lynch leading the way with three goals. Jessica Griffin and Taylor George also scored as Navy struggled to win draw controls during that span.
After North Carolina took its 7-3 lead, Timchal called a timeout. Coming out of the break, junior attacker Kathy Young (Berwyn, Pa.) won the draw control and the team went right down and scored as sophomore attacker Aimee Gennaro (Havertown, Pa.) put a nice shot on goal off an assist from DePompeo, who set up the play from behind the cage.
North Carolina added two more goals in the final five minutes of the half by Kara Cannizzaro and Abbey Friend to take a 9-4 lead into the locker room.
Carolina opened the second half scoring on a goal by Cannizzaro, but DePompeo made a great individual effort inside the eight-meter arc to create space and beat the goalie for her fourth goal of the day.
Carolina answered with a goal from Friend and after a Navy timeout, sophomore attacker Molly Hamilton (New Albany, Ohio) controlled the draw and Gennaro scored again to pull Navy within five at 11-6 with 18 minutes to play.
George netted the game’s only goal over the next 16 minutes and then Lynch scored with 2:40 remaining.
Gennaro then notched her third of the day 28 seconds later before Zimmerman ended the game’s scoring with 41 seconds remaining for the 14-7 win.
A big difference in the game was the draw control battle, as North Carolina held a 12-2 advantage in the category in the first half as the team built its 9-4 lead. Navy did much better on the draws in the second half, trailing just 5-4 in the category over the final 30 minutes. It was the first time this season that Navy did not outdraw its opponent.
“We pride ourselves on being great on the draw and North Carolina did a great job against us in the first half,” said Timchal “In the second half we made some adjustments and made a commitment to get to the ball first and did better.”
Navy made its third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament in just its fifth year as a varsity program and the seven-goal deficit was Navy’s best performance in the tournament to date. The Mids lost to Maryland last season, 19-6, and fell at Fetzer Field to North Carolina, 18-5, in their first tournament appearance in 2010.
“Two years ago we were just happy to make it here,” DePompeo said. “Today we came out and knew that we were more prepared and more seasoned than we were last time. We’ve come a long way.”
DePompeo and Gennaro provided all of the scoring for Navy with four goals and three goals, respectively. DePompeo finishes the season with a team-high 92 points (45 goals, 47 assists). DePompeo’s 47 assists is a school record and ties the Patriot League single season record and she also tied the school career record with 96 over her first three years at Navy.
Gennaro’s hat trick was her ninth of the season and she has came on strong of late, scoring 18 goals in Navy’s four postseason games.
Junior goalie Michelle Verbeeck (Wading River, N.Y.) made 12 saves for Navy, just one shy of her career high. Verbeeck made seven of her saves in the first half and was a key factor in keeping Navy in the game.
Freshman attacker Loren Generi (Bayport, N.Y.) had one draw control to push her season total to 118, which is currently the third-best single-season total in NCAA history.
Senior team captain Kierstin King (Upperco, Md.), Navy’s all-time leader in games started (72) and ground balls (153), scooped three ground balls and caused one turnover in the final game of her career.
Lynch had a game-high six points on four goals and two assists and six draw controls to lead North Carolina and Zimmerman had three goals and one assist. George, Canizzaro and Friend all scored twice. Goalie Lauren Maksym made nine saves for the win in the cage.
Navy led in ground balls, 13-7, and North Carolina held a 34-21 edge in shots.
Navy, the three-time Patriot League Tournament champions, is graduating six seniors, but will return 10 starters and its top-six scorers for the 2013 season.