Carolina's Corzel back at Villanova with much bigger stakes

Tar Heels defender Margaret Corzel, a Merion Mercy grad, is thrilled to be playing in this year's NCAA final four after missing last season with knee injury.
Tar Heels defender Margaret Corzel, a Merion Mercy grad, is thrilled to be playing in this year's NCAA final four after missing last season with knee injury. (JEFFREY CAMARATI / UNC)
Posted: May 25, 2013

As the North Carolina bus inched its way through traffic on the Blue Route toward Villanova Stadium in the rain late Thursday afternoon, no one thought to ask Margaret Corzel if she knew any shortcuts.

That's a pity, because she probably could have helped.

This weekend's NCAA Division I women's lacrosse Final Four is a homecoming for several players. But few can make as strong a claim as Corzel, a redshirt sophomore defender for North Carolina.

Corzel grew up 10 minutes away in Berwyn, and played in high school at Merion Mercy.

But for all her familiarity with the area, Corzel played just one middle-school game at Villanova Stadium. The stakes will be just a bit higher Friday when her third-seeded Tar Heels (16-3) play No. 2 Northwestern in the semifinals at 5 p.m.

"It's like it's all coming full circle," Corzel said.

Corzel hopes this trip home goes better than one in the fall of 2011.

As she played in a scrimmage against Penn at Princeton, her left knee gave out as she pivoted on a draw control. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament and missed all of last season as a medical redshirt.

Corzel returned as a captain this season, starting every game and leading the team in ground balls.

"I really don't feel like I lost anything," Corzel said. "I feel like I'm just as fast and strong as I was."

Northwestern sophomore starting goalie Bridget Bianco also has plenty of reasons to feel at home at Villanova. But there's really only one that matters to her: Her mother will be there.

Bianco plays halfway across the country from her Moorestown home, and her mother, Tracey, doesn't fly.

That won't be a problem Friday.

"I consider it home, because my mom's coming," Bianco said. "This is really special that she'll be able to be here for the whole weekend."

Northwestern may be far from Moorestown geographically, but it had one major thing in common: dominance.

The Wildcats (19-2) are shooting for their eighth championship in the last nine years. Moorestown is the winningest girls' lacrosse team in the country over the last 13 years and has won 19 state championships.

"I come from Moorestown High School, and that's a huge legacy," Bianco said. "To come here and be a part of a program similar, just at the next level, I really thought that was a perfect fit for me."


Contact Tim McManus at tmcmanus@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @ByTimMcManus.

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