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CHESTER, Pa. -- The 11th-ranked Nittany Lions women's lacrosse team ended the game on a 4-0 run, but fell a goal shy of forcing overtime in a 12-11 NCAA Semifinal loss to No. 3 North Carolina on Friday night at Talen Energy Stadium.
"It was a great game," Penn State Head Coach Missy Doherty said. "That is what Final Fours are all about. Both teams went on runs and were competing hard. Both teams were coming up with big plays at big times and our athletes played a full 60 minutes.
We fell a little short in the end, but I am so proud of how hard they worked and how hard the game was. We wanted to show everyone in the Final Four that we are here and we were ready for it. They definitely showed that today."
A game of momentum swings saw five different runs of three consecutive goals or more with Penn State (14-7) charging down the stretch. North Carolina (19-2) built a five-goal cushion, its largest lead of the game after four straight goals through the early part of the second half to lead 12-7 with 14:46 remaining.
Nevertheless, Penn State capitalized on its free-position opportunities, scoring three in succession in a span of 3:31 to narrow the deficit to a pair, 12-10, with 10:10 remaining. During that stretch, Abby Smucker (Bel Air, Md.) scored twice and Madison Cyr (Westminster, Md.) tallied her second of the game.
Cyr's goal came after UNC's Molly Hendrick had her goal waved off that would've made it 13-9, due to an illegal stick. Then Cyr had to sit for two minutes on a yellow card, which Penn State killed off setting up Smucker's second of the night.
Madison Carter (Davidsonville, Md.) scored three minutes later to make it a one-goal contest, but the Nittany Lions lost the ensuing draw and the Tar Heels attempted to run out the final seven minutes by playing keep away.
Cyr's fourth caused turnover of the night produced a final chance for the Nittany Lions with 70 seconds to play. Penn State successfully cleared and ran some offense, eventually resulting in a shot by Steph Lazo (Stevensville, Md.) that was saved by UNC reserve goalie Caylee Waters (eight saves) with 38 seconds remaining to salt away the game.
Penn State out-shot Carolina 26-21, including 15-9 in the second half. Penn State kept better care of the ball, committing only 10 turnovers to UNC's 18, in fact, directly causing 13 of the 18 Tar Heel miscues. Penn State went 4-for-7 from the free-position and didn't surrender a single 8-meter chance to North Carolina.
Offensively, Penn State was led by Jenna Mosketti (Fallston, Md.) who had a first-half hat trick to keep the Nittany Lions on pace with North Carolina. UNC's Carly Reed had five goals, four of which came in the first half, to pace the Tar Heel offense.
Cyr posted a three-point game by adding a first-half and finished her incredible four-year career on a 30-game scoring streak. She also added four caused turnovers in an all-around effort. Cyr's career year finished with her as the team leader in goals (59), points (83), shots (130), ground balls (38) and caused turnovers (42).
Early on, North Carolina ran out to a 3-0 run in the game's first four minutes. The Nittany Lions responded with five straight in 2:58 goals kick-started by Mosketti and Cyr on unassisted tallies just 32 seconds apart with 23:13 remaining. Cyr picked up her 200th point on the goal and became the 12th Nittany Lion to join the 200-point club.
Lazo joined in the scoring party to even the score and Mosketti put away a Cyr feed from the top of the fan for Penn State's first lead, 4-3, with 22:10 remaining.
Daggett concluded Penn State's 5-0 run 23 seconds later, picking up a loose ball and scampering past the UNC defense and bouncing her 12th goal of the year past starter Megan Ward, who was pulled after only 8:13 without recording a save.
The Tar Heels responded with three straight, two of which came from Reed, who capped off her hat trick with 8:27 remaining and regained UNC's lead at 6-5. Mosketti briefly halted the UNC run with a free-position goal with 2:10 left. Reed capped off her four-goal half with 47 seconds left as UNC owned a 6-5 advantage going into the break.
Kelly Devlin opened the scoring in the second half and O'Donnell responded with 24:41 to make it a one-goal game, 8-7. There, the Tar Heels ran off four straight to open their five-goal margin setting up the furious rally by the Nittany Lions. Ultimately, the UNC run turned out to be 10-2 from the 19:19 mark in the first half until the 14:46 mark in the second half.
Waters was impressive for the Tar Heels, making eight saves with seven goals allowed. Five of her saves came in the second half and she improved to 12-1 on the year.
Penn State fell to 7-6 all-time in neutral site contests and 3-11 against the Tar Heels. The Nittany Lions were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year by UNC and the third time overall.
The Nittany Lions fell to 21-20 in all NCAA Tournament games. Penn State was competing in its first NCAA Semifinals since 1999. Penn State is now 4-6 in NCAA Semifinal contests.
Madison Cyr scored in every game this season and finished her career on a 30-game scoring streak dating back to last year. This season, Cyr has tallied at least two points in every game and finished with 12 hat tricks.
Cyr's two goals bring her career total to 156, which gives her for sole possession of fourth all-time at Penn State. Her 156 goals are the most by a Nittany Lion in nearly 30 years (230 by Tami Worley, 1986-89).
Cyr's three points brought her career total to 202 to become the 12th Nittany Lion to score at least 200 points. Her 202 points ties her with sister, Mackenzie Cyr, for ninth all-time at Penn State. Cyr's 83 points were the most by a Nittany Lion since Maggie McCormick tallied 87 in 2013.
Madison Carter scored in 20 of 21 games this season. Carter, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, finished the year with 48 goals.
Jenna Mosketti scored at least three goals in a game for the fifth time this season. Her hat trick was her first since April 2 vs. Rutgers. Mosketti ended her PSU career by scoring in the final 14 games of the year.
Mosketti finishes her career with 121 goals, which is 16th all-time at Penn State. Mosketti finished with a career-high 39 points this season on a personal best 33 goals. Mosketti also capped her career with 276 draw controls.
Abby Smucker scored multiple goals in a game for the first time since March 9 against James Madison (3). Smucker moved up from defense down the stretch to aid the Nittany Lion attack. She also had two caused turnovers and finished with 27 CTs on the year.
Freshman defender Lucy Haubold was a key member of the Nittany Lion defense on Friday, forcing two Tar Heel turnovers and scooping a ground ball.