No. 3 North Carolina Scores Final Four to Nip No. 10 Cornell

The Big Red just missed its second ever victory over a top-three team and could not prevent the Tar Heels from scoring four goals in the final 10:49 to sneak away with the victory, but Cornell proved it belongs in the discussion among the nation's best teams early in the season.

Cornell (6-1) suffers its first loss of the year, but the team would not have been in such good shape throughout the night if it was not for the first-half heroics of goalie Courtney Gallagher. The senior made an impressive seven saves in the first half to keep the Big Red within striking distance, and she ended the night by tying a career high with nine stops.

Cornell got three goals from Caroline Salisbury and Amanda D'Amico, two from Lauren Halpern and one each from Lindsay Toppe and Rachel Moody.

The Tar Heels entered the game giving up a very stingy 6.88 goals per game, a number that was the sixth-best in the nation. But the potent Big Red offense that had been averaging the nation's fifth-best goals per game at 15.33 was able to get things going early in the second half.

Its 6-0 run early in the second half spanned 19 minutes and saw goals from Halpern, Salisbury, D'Amico and Moody. Ahead 10-7, Cornell's chance at an upset was well within view.

North Carolina's Emily Garrity got two quick goals to make it a 10-9 game with 9:21 left in the game. Their scoring continued from that point, and Cornell's came to an end. Kara Cannizzaro tied the contest at 10-10 with 5:16 to go, and Brittany Coppa gave North Carolina the lead for good with just 3:15 left on the clock.

Cornell had possession multiple times in the last three minutes but was unable to get the ball into the net.

North Carolina controlled much of the early going, winning the first two draw controls and taking seven shots before Cornell got its first. Gallagher was excellent in the first few minutes, making two saves to keep North Carolina to just one goal.

Cornell made its first shot count when Toppe got her 26th of the season just under eight minutes into the contest. D'Amico won the ensuing draw for the Big Red, and the junior took the offense into her own hands by giving the Big Red a 2-1 lead on the team's second shot. Toppe and D'Amico's goals came just 33 seconds apart.

That would be the Big Red's last goal for the next 17 minutes. North Carolina went on a 3-0 run with time winding down in the first half to take a 5-2 lead.

Cornell went on a brief run of its own late in the half, scoring with 4:04 showing on the clock. Salisbury put the ball past Lauren Maksym to bring the Big Red back within two. Gallagher made a save at the other end 50 seconds after that, and Salisbury got her second goal of the evening two minutes after her first to make it a one-goal game.

The Tar Heels did not let the Big Red enter halftime with the momentum, though, as Kara Cannizzaro's third goal of the half let North Carolina go into the break ahead 6-4 and with a 20-7 advantage in shots on goal

The Tar Heels extended their lead to 7-4 just 30 seconds into the second half, but the next six belonged to Cornell.

Lauren Halpern scored on a free position goal 23 seconds after UNC's seventh to make it a two-goal game once again. Three minutes later, she made North Carolina see déjà vu when she struck from a free position opportunity. Cornell, back within one goal, erased the deficit completely when Salisbury converted exactly one minute after Halpern's second goal.

Salisbury's tally extended the Big Red's streak of consecutive games with at least one player recording a hat trick to 30 games.

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2013-03-20



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