Unfortunately, I did not realize the lone UNC scrimmage game started at 11:00 am this morning, Saturday, January 24th. I didn’t get to Navy Field until the end of the first half and only got to see the final goal of the half by Molly Hendrick. Elon scored two goals and the Tar Heels were not playing all that well. Marie McCool had two eight meter opportunities that did not produce any goals. I knew the game could not be completely out of hand simply by the way the Heels were playing. Upon looking at the scoreboard I saw that it was 10-6 Heels at the break.
I was left wondering if this was truly a Tar Heel team that was going to make a run at the 2015 National Championship. The last five minutes of the first half did not look good. In fact, the Tar Heels were outplayed by an Elon team that is only in its third or fourth year of existence. Something I noticed at the end of the first half was many younger players at attack and midfield for the Tar Heels. Seniors Brittney Coppa and Kelly Devlin were not in the game. Instead, freshman Marie McCool and sophomore transfer Alex Moore were attacking the Elon goal.
It is important to remember that this was a scrimmage and not a game that will not count. One would think the reason for the absence of Brittney Coppa was the fact that this game did not mean anything; it was basically a practice. That said, I didn’t even see Coppa on the sidelines for the Heels. I was standing across the field so there is a good chance she was on the sidelines but I simply didn’t see her.
To start the second half Molly Hendrick dominated the draws. Interestingly, she uses a different stick to take the draws than to attack the goal. If she wins the draw and Carolina takes the position she will throw the “draw stick” back to Caileigh Sindall or Mallory Frysinger and they will toss her an “attack stick”. I have never seen this done at the college level.
To start the second half I believe Hendrick won five straight draws that immediately lead to UNC goals. In the blink of an eye the Tar Heels were up 15-6. Hendrick had an amazing underhand flip goal that caused the Elon Phoenix to take a time out down 16-6. The most effective attackers for the Heels during this run were Hendrick, Aly Messinger, Maggie Bill and Sydney Holman. It is shocking how much talent this team has. They should have absolutely no problems putting the ball in the back of the goal.
Another highlight of the second half was a break away goal by Alex Moore. The USC transfer got quite a bit of playing time with the first team. This is all relative because it is a scrimmage game but it looks like Jenny Levy prefers the attackers to be Holman, Messinger, McCool and Moore. After walking out of the locker room at halftime McCool and Messinger were discussing a few things which makes me believe these two will play very well together. I do not recall seeing McCool score a goal but there were plenty of clear out plays for her. Levy obviously wants the ball in her hands on the offensive end.
The defense was very solid throughout the entire second half. The starters look to be Sindall, Corzel, Frysinger and Waite with Sarah Scott subbing in and out based on possession. There were a few draws in which Maggie Bill started out as a defender but immediately converted to a middie when UNC gained possession. In one particular instance, she picked up the ground ball, sprinted toward the Elon goal and scored.
Once UNC was up by over 15 goals Jenny Levy brought in some of the younger players to mesh with a few veterans. A player that impressed me quite a bit was #37 Carolyn Paletta. This is an athlete that received almost no press when it came to recruiting. She is a freshman that won several draw controls and scored at least two goals. She seemed very confident in her ability to get shots off in traffic. It will be interesting to see if she gets any playing time with the midfield of the Tar Heels stacked.
At the end of the game it was quite obvious that Carly Reed is a player that wants to be in control of the game. She was on the field with some of the players that will likely not get a lot of playing time this year. She acted as a point guard and completely took over the game. When most teams would settle down and run out the clock Reed was sprinting around the field adding goals and assists. She finished with, at least, four goals and an assist with much of this coming in the last 10 minutes of the game.
When all was said and done at Navy Field, on the campus of the University of North Carolina, I have to say that I am extremely impressed with this young Tar Heel team. I didn’t get to see much of Caylee Waters in goal as she played the first half. Meg Ward played the second half and only gave up two goals on eight meter opportunities. She made some really nice saves to keep the Elon Phoenix in single digits.
The only seniors that saw significant playing time were Kelly Devlin, Margaret Corzel and the Scott twins. I will continue to monitor the Brittney Coppa situation. I have not heard anything negative related to her ACL or injury but it was interesting that she did not play at all in the scrimmage versus Elon. Hopefully all is well and she will be leading the Tar Heels when they take on James Madison next Sunday at Fetzer Field.
After the scrimmage I would expect to see Molly Hendrick, Maggie Bill and Brittney Coppa in the midfield to start the season. Attackers will likely be Sydney Holman, Aly Messinger, Marie McCool and Alex Moore. The defense will be anchored by veterans Margaret Corzel, Caleigh Sindall, Courtney Waite and Mallory Frysinger. The first in line to get on the field will be Sarah Scott, Sammy Jo Tracy, Kelly Devlin, Ela Hazer, Bridget Curran and Maggie Auslander.
Freshman Ela Hazer and Bridget Curran played well throughout much of the second half. Along with Marie McCool, this freshman class should help the Tar Heels make a run at the ACC regular season title.