Here’s a look back at the year in North Carolina’s Olympic sports.
After a strong season in which it posted an 11-5 record, the men’s lacrosse team secured the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and with it, a home game in the first round.
The Tar Heels played Denver, a team they had already gone up against in a preseason exhibition game.
In the NCAA Tournament’s first round, Denver got the best of UNC in a 16-14 win, stopping the Tar Heels’ tournament run before it even got started.
“We played hard today, we just didn’t do enough to win the game,” coach Joe Breschi said. “But we fought like hell.”
The women’s lacrosse team continued a streak of strong ACC play by making it to the ACC Championship game for the third year in a row. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, they came out on the losing end of the game for the third consecutive year as well.
“We moved the ball the way we normally do, and we just didn’t get the opportunities that we were looking for,” coach Jenny Levy said.
After the ACC tournament, the Tar Heels earned a berth in the NCAA tournament where they took down Navy 14-7 in the first round, but they wouldn’t make it any further. Syracuse sent them home with a tough 17-16 loss.
Despite having home-field advantage as hosts of the ACC tournament, the softball team fell in the semifinals to Virginia Tech 4-1.
Afterward, the Tar Heels were not picked to host a regional entering the NCAA tournament and instead traveled to Athens, Ga., to compete.
UNC managed to make it out of its games against Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina with victories, but a 3-2 loss to host Georgia eliminated the Tar Heels and ended their season.
“Everyone left everything on the field, whether they were on the bench in the dugout or out on the field, we left it all there,” coach Donna Papa said. “You can feel good about a performance when you do that.”
Following strong regular seasons, both North Carolina tennis teams earned trips to Athens, Ga., for their respective NCAA tournaments.
Both teams also ended their seasons with losses in the round of 16. Host Georgia routed the men 4-0, while the women fell to conference rival Miami 4-2.
“We got off to a really good start in doubles,” women’s coach Brian Kalbas said. “But unfortunately we were just so excited and so motivated that we weren’t able to sustain it.”
After finishing in seventh place in the ACC Tournament, the men’s golf team had a disappointingly early end to its season.
“We had our best tournament of the year the week before, and we felt like we were going into the ACCs playing our best golf,” redshirt junior Patrick Barrett said. “But unfortunately it didn’t translate the way we wanted it to.”
The Tar Heels came back strong in the fall, earning a team win in Raleigh.
But the women’s team continued a strong season to contend for the NCAA title.
With a seventh place finish in the NCAA West Regional, UNC earned a spot among 23 other teams in the NCAA Championships.
Despite being tied for second place halfway through the tournament, the Tar Heels lost their rhythm in the final days and fell back for a 10th place finish.
Track and Field
To finish off head coach Dennis Craddock’s final season with UNC, the Tar Heels sent seven athletes to Des Moines, Iowa to compete in the NCAA Championships.
Craddock, who will be replaced this season by former Tar Heel Harlis Meaders, is humble about his record 45 ACC Championships, which is more than any other coach in any other sport in the history of the conference.
“It wasn’t just because of me,” he said. “It was because of the coaches, the administration supporting us and athletes who came here and graduated.”
“It’s special to have those kind of people here. No one person ever does this by themselves.”
Although none of the seven athletes made it out of preliminaries, six of them will return to Chapel hill for the 2012-13 season – including sophomore Sandi Morris who finished 11th in the women’s pole vault and was a second team All-American.
After a tough 5-3 loss to Miami in the ACC tournament, the Tar Heels earned a No. 6 seed and, with it, the right to host a regional in the NCAA tournament.
But the Tar Heels failed to make their sixth appearance in seven years in the College World Series after two shocking losses at the hands of St. Johns eliminated them from further post season play.
“Obviously we didn’t get where we wanted to go, but we had a great year,” senior catcher Jacob Stallings said. “It’s just disappointing the way it ended.”
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