CHAPEL HILL — With Loyola (Md.) repeatedly knocking it off balance, North Carolina struggled to find its footing in the first half of Saturdays NCAA Tournament second-round game against the Greyhounds.
It wasnt until junior Laura Zimmerman scored just as the half expired that the Tar Heels had a toe hold they could use to lift them over Loyola and into the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
While the final score was relatively close 16-13 in favor of UNC the Tar Heels had a measure of comfort in the second half, never leading by less than three goals. Zimmerman paced UNCs attack with four goals, Corey Donohoe had three and four different players Kara Cannizzaro, Emily Garrity, Becky Lynch and Brittney Coppa scored twice at Fetzer Field.
It is UNCs third straight trip to the national semifinals. The third-seeded Tar Heels (15-6) will face either Northwestern or Albany in their next game.
Sixth-seeded Loyola (17-3) and UNC traded goals for muck of the first half, with neither team leading by more than one for most of the frame.
After the Greyhounds took a 6-5 lead with 10:30 remaining, the Tar Heels scored three straight to take the first two-goal lead of the game. The two sides then exchanged goals to make the score 9-7 in favor of UNC late in the half.
With the seconds ticking away, UNC had the ball in the Loyola zone. After Loyola goalie Kerry Stoothoff made a nice save with 3 seconds left, officials called a foul against the Greyhounds, giving the Tar Heels a free position. Zimmerman managed to charge forward and score just before the clock hit 0:00 and UNC had a 10-7 edge at the break.
The Tar Heels scored the first two goals after halftime, giving them the comfortable working margin they never had in the back-and-forth first. Loyolas Marlee Paton scored with 3:34 left to bring the Greyhounds within three, but UNC managed to run out the final minutes of the game without incident.