The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Jamie Ortega and Katie Hoeg shine as No. 5 UNC women's lacrosse dominates Louisville

The first-year and sophomore combined for eight goals and five assists in a 16-6 win.

Jamie Ortega Louisville

First year attacker Jamie Ortega (3) moves towards the goal against Louisville on April 7 in Kenan Stadium.

While the No. 5 North Carolina women’s lacrosse team is heading into the final stretch of the regular season, the underclassmen are beginning to really shine in the spotlight.

This strong level of play was evident in UNC’s convincing 16-6 victory over Louisville on Saturday afternoon. First-year Jamie Ortega and sophomore Katie Hoeg stole the show for the Tar Heels — combining for eight goals and five assists in a cold and rainy contest in Kenan Stadium.

Now having won six out of its last seven games, including four against ranked opponents during span, UNC is getting hot at the right time.

“I like where we are right now,” head coach Jenny Levy said. “We obviously play a very competitive schedule, and it challenges us to get better. So with 12 games under our belt, we have a better idea of our strengths and weaknesses. They have really come together nicely.”

Despite the obstacles that commonly present themselves while playing on a wet surface, UNC (9-3, 4-1 ACC) was able to persevere through the elements, ultimately dominating Louisville (6-8, 0-5 ACC) in virtually every statistical category. 

The teams combined for 41 turnovers, but North Carolina still established an offensive rhythm. The Tar Heels collected more ground balls (26 to 18); secured more draw controls (16 to 8); and outshot the Cardinals (38 to 20 in total shots; 26 to 12 in shots on goal). UNC controlled the pace of the game from the start.

Ortega and Hoeg’s performances were a big reason for this offensive supremacy, primarily from quick ball movement and efficiency around the goal.

“They’ve got great chemistry,” Levy said of her two talented underclassmen. “Both are high IQ players as well as great finishers. Jamie and Katie take a lot of pressure off of Marie (McCool) and Maggie (Bill). They have really increased their level of play since the beginning of the season, and we need that to continue.”

Since arriving to UNC as the top first-year attacker in the nation, Ortega has established an almost immediate impact on the field. She has found a groove within the offense this season, earning National Player of the Week honors for her efforts in UNC’s close wins over ranked ACC opponents Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.

Time after time, she continues to live up to high expectations. 

“It's definitely hard, but I like the challenge,” Ortega said of high expectations. “I mean it's not easy, but I think this team has given me so many opportunities.”

One of the players that has helped Ortega adapt to the college game has been Hoeg, whose five goals and seven points against the Cardinals set new career highs in both categories. 

Hoeg and Ortega practiced together over the summer and have been enjoyed seeing each other's success so far this season.

“Jamie is just a one of a kind player honestly,” Hoeg said. “She’s absolutely killing it. She’s fearless out there.”

Both natives of Long Island, N.Y., Ortega and Hoeg have known each other since high school. This familiarity with one another has culminated into great success — on and off the field.

“We just work so well together,” Ortega said. “We use each other quite well, and it’s very good for us as a team.”

With only three games left before the ACC Tournament, Levy views team chemistry as a major advantage for the Tar Heels as postseason play draws near. 

“The better the chemistry they have, the better we will be,” Levy said. “To see that continue to grow will be really exciting for us.”

@keberly1996

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.