The No. 3 UNC women’s lacrosse team kicked off its season with a huge statement win as it demolished the reigning national champions, No. 4 James Madison, 18-7, on a chilly afternoon in Kenan Stadium.
After being knocked out by JMU in last year’s Final Four, UNC came out playing like a team motivated by the opportunity for revenge. The team got off to a blazing start, with sophomore Ally Mastroianni putting the Tar Heels in front less than a minute into the game. Sophomore Jamie Ortega then scored back-to-back goals within 33 seconds before first-year Tayler Warehime made it 4-0.
The Dukes pulled one back a little under 10 minutes in, but Ortega completed her hat trick on a free position shot to stretch the lead back to four about halfway through the period.
After JMU scored a second goal, UNC scored three straight courtesy of two from Katie Hoeg and another from Warehime to make the score 8-2. Midfielder Scottie Rose Growney added another goal in the closing minutes of the half to send the home team to the locker room with a dominant 9-3 lead.
Midfielder Kara Klages fired one home less than a minute into the second half to keep the pressure on, before Warehime completed her hat trick several minutes later to make it 11-3.
The dominance just wouldn’t stop, though, with sophomore attacker Taylor McDaniels getting on the scoreboard for the Tar Heels 24 seconds later.
JMU scored a little over 10 minutes into the second half, but the lead was quickly back at nine after first-year Elizabeth Hillman scored from close range for North Carolina.
After JMU scored twice in two minutes, Ortega got her fourth goal on an assist from Hoeg. It was Hoeg’s sixth assist of the game, and she added to that tally by picking up a third goal in the final minutes.
Warehime picked up her fourth goal and Ortega snagged a fifth in the final few minutes, while senior Gianna Bowe also got on the scoreboard as the Tar Heels cruised to a comfortable 18-7 win.
Who stood out?
It’s hard to pick just one player that stole the show, but Hoeg's performance was tremendous. The junior attacker from Mattituck, N.Y. was all over the place, netting a hat trick and setting up six goals for her teammates.
“Katie is just a team player,” UNC head coach Jenny Levy said after the game. “She steps up when she needs to make the play, but she prefers to feed the ball, although she can dodge. She’ll do whatever’s asked of her. She can play anywhere on our field offensively, and she’s just solid.”
Ortega was also unstoppable on offense, notching five goals and an assist, while Warehime scored four in her college debut.
“It felt really great,” Warehime said. “This has always been my dream, to play in a Carolina uniform and today was probably one of the days I’ve been waiting for almost my whole entire life, so it was a dream come true.”
When was it decided?
UNC came out extremely hot and never looked back. The result really never seemed in doubt after an early four-goal flurry gave the Tar Heels a lead they would never relinquish.
The only momentum JMU ever seemed to have came in the second half when they scored twice during a UNC penalty, but by that point the game was already far out of their reach.
Why does it matter?
Going up against the reigning national champions in their season opener was predicted to be an extremely tough test for the Tar Heels, but they passed with flying colors. The blowout win will send a message to the rest of the country that this North Carolina team is not one to be underestimated.
“It’s just one game,” Ortega said. “It’s awesome, it’s a great feeling to celebrate today, but tomorrow it’s about High Point next.”
When do they play next?
UNC takes on High Point in its next game on Friday, Feb. 15th in Chapel Hill.
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