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The shots kept coming at Lysianne Proulx. As North Carolina continued to attack the wings, crosses rained into her box, and she was forced to deal with the shots in a multitude of ways. A soft header forcing a jump and catch. A hard shot punched up and over the crossbar.
In the 43rd minute, Proulx geared up to make another save as two Tar Heels approached the box with just one Orange defender back. A hard drive caused Proulx to dive to her left, but the ball snuck in between her outstretched hand and the left post, doubling North Carolina’s lead.
“Response!” yelled a Syracuse defender as the ball was retrieved from the back of the net. But Proulx never saw one.
The lone two goals she surrendered to No. 1 UNC (5-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast) in the first half stood for a final score of 2-0, with Syracuse (0-4, 0-4 ACC) dropping yet another match despite Proulx’s quality play. She set a career-high with 14 saves, shattering her previous personal best of 10 — which she set at Auburn last season and then tied in the season-opener this year against Pitt.
“She is a warrior, so it’s no surprise that she’s making big time saves for us. She’s done that her whole career here,” head coach Nicky Adams said.
The onslaught didn’t cease once UNC took its commanding 2-0 lead in the 43rd minute. Proulx made a string of seven saves in the second half as the Tar Heel offense continued peppering the Orange’s defense. Proulx watched as her defenders scrambled in front of her all game, rarely getting an opportunity to sit back as the Syracuse offensive attack was once again snubbed out near midfield.
North Carolina’s first goal on Proulx came in the 19th minute, when a shot ricocheted off the post and was cleaned up by UNC’s Talia Dellaperuta. As Syracuse sulked back to midfield, Adams yelled, “Heads up, let’s go!”
Proulx kept the Orange in the game through the rest of the first half, surrendering just one more goal in the frame and shutting out the Tar Heels in the second, despite seeing a total of 16 shots on goal.
“She talks on the back line, she tells us where the other players are, she saves (us) in a lot of game,” defender Jenna Tivnan said “She makes game-changing saves, and that’s what you want in a keeper.”
Through its first four games, Syracuse has given up 47 shots on goal, yet Proulx has managed to keep the Orange in each one of them, allowing two goals in each game besides a 3-0 loss to Louisville. Proulx’s save count in each of those games is 10, five, nine and 14, respectively, and she’s coming off a season where she led the ACC in saves (96) and saves per game (5.05).
“She is definitely one of the bravest players we have,” Adams said.
Midway through the second half, a North Carolina player glanced a shot straight off Proulx’s chest after she squared up the incoming ball. She inched closer to her old career high, a 10-save mark, as Syracuse finally cleared the ball.
But only a slight applause came from the artificial crowd noise, seemingly a representation of the support Proulx has received on the field for the fourth straight game.
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