Now, UNC has a chance to prove it deserves the title of undisputed NCAA Champion, too.
The journey through the ACC was long and sometimes rocky. The Tar Heels needed two overtimes to beat Virginia on March 12 and one overtime to win the ACC Championship over Syracuse. But despite many close wins, the Tar Heels proved they were the best team in the conference.
North Carolina’s only two losses of the season came in non-conference play, Both were by just one goal, but they were still losses.
No. 1 Maryland, No. 2 Florida and No. 3 North Carolina combined to create the top tier in women’s lacrosse. But even among the top tier, it is clear Maryland might be a cut above the rest. They defeated Florida, 14-4, defeated UNC, 8-7 and haven’t lost a game yet. They are also the two-time defending NCAA champions.
The good news is the top tier will not meet until the Final Four. If North Carolina can make it there, they would likely play Florida in the national semifinal. Maryland could be waiting in the championship game.
The road to the Final Four isn’t easy either. Duke, Louisville and Notre Dame, all in the Tar Heel’s section of the bracket, would pose a challenge for UNC. The tournament starts Sunday for the Tar Heels, when they play the winner of Duke and Loyola in the second round.
It remains to be seen, though, if the ACC title will change anything when the time comes to play Florida or Maryland.
North Carolina already proved itself in the conference. Now it’s time to see if all the lessons learned will help against tougher opponents in the NCAA Tournament.