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The Daily Tar Heel

Jamie Ortega, Taylor Moreno dominate for No. 5 UNC women's lacrosse in ACC title game

Women's lax Duke celebration

The North Carolina women's lacrosse team celebrates a goal against Duke on April 21 at Kenan Stadium.

Just like the phrase says — three was the magic number for the No. 5 North Carolina women's lacrosse team.

For the third year in a row, the Tar Heels secured an ACC title, taking down No. 2 Boston College in a 14-11 win on Sunday in Durham. Led by the performances of first-year attacker Jamie Ortega and redshirt first-year goalkeeper Taylor Moreno, North Carolina fought hard to win it all after making it through some of the best teams in the country.  

“It’s a really tough tournament to play,” UNC head coach Jenny Levy said. “The ACC is a lot of strong coaching and a lot of great players. So you got to stay disciplined and focused to take care of business. It’s an accumulation of a lot of hard work from the players and the coaches.”

Coming into the game, the Eagles hadn't lost a game all season. When the two teams faced each other earlier this season, it was Boston College (19-1) that took control in a 17-11 win.   

“This game is skill, passion, athleticism and collective play,” Levy said. “There’s no one on their team that is not affective in the job that they’re asked to do, so we knew that coming in.”

But since then, the Tar Heels (15-3) hadn't lost a game either. When the game began, the team had plenty of motivation to make it happen this time around. 

Boston College began the contest by establishing the tempo and scoring the first two goals of the game. Then, the momentum shifted toward North Carolina — as the team scored five unanswered goals the next five minutes. When senior Maggie Bill tallied a goal for a 3-2 lead with 19:01 left in the first half, it marked when UNC took the lead for good. 

Ortega was the force that powered the offense. She scored five of her six goals in the first half. 

“Jamie Ortega is a special player,” senior midfielder Marie McCool said. “She’s only a freshman and the confidence that she plays with — you don’t see it often with freshmen.”

By the end of the game, Ortega recorded her 15th goal of the conference tournament, breaking the record set by North Carolina attacker Molly Hendrick last season. 

Ortega arrived on campus this season as the top-ranked attacker in her recruiting class.  For the season, she has scored a team-high 58 goals, making her mark already on the program as her team enters the NCAA tournament. She was happy to be such a big part of her team's win. 

“It’s definitely something I’ve always dreamt about,” Ortega said. “Of course, I’m always nervous, but my team trusts me with the ball and I just always show them that they can look up to me. They give me the opportunities and I just take them.”

Ortega's offensive efforts were even more important because Moreno helped her on the other end. Moreno had 11 saves in the final game, adding to her total of 33 for the tournament — another conference record. For all her defensive play, she was rewarded 2018 ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

“She does a great job anchoring our group and giving them confidence,” Levy said. “Taylor comes in and she made so many special plays all weekend.”

Even though she made several outstanding moves in the goal, Morena credited the defense for their tenacious performance in a big win.

“Honestly, they make my job so much easier,” Morena said. “I think I should share this MVP. They deserve it just as much as I do.”

While the Tar Heels will be celebrating this title run in the short term, the program still has its sight on a greater accomplishment the rest of the way.

“Well, hopefully our next championship is a national championship,” Ortega said. “We’re going to enjoy our win for a few days and then get back to practicing.”


@DTHSports |

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