No. 3 North Carolina (8-2, 1-1 ACC) suffered a 14-8 setback at home against No. 1 Boston College (11-0, 2-0 ACC) in a heavyweight matchup between two teams ranked in the top three nationally in scoring margin.
North Carolina started the scoring early when Jamie Ortega caught a Kara Klages assist and put it in the back of the net less than two minutes into the game. Boston College’s No. 2 ranked offensive engine kicked in soon after, however, and sent the Eagle’s on a 5-0 run. With 11:42 to play, Ortega scored her second goal of the game off an assist by Katie Hoeg to cut the streak off, and was followed by an unassisted goal from Marisa DiVietro who cut the deficit to 5-3.
The Tar Heels continued this pattern — allowing the Eagles offense to surge while scoring just often enough to keep the game within reach — as they trailed 8-5 at half time.
Boston College started the second half with three straight goals before Taylor McDaniels got UNC back on the board with her second goal of the game. McDaniels’ goal seemed to wake up the Tar Heel offense, whose neater passing game generated an increase in possession time and looks at the goal.
This started a 3-0 run for UNC after a goal by Gianna Bowe and another goal by Ortega brought UNC within three.
Boston College had a response on offense though, extending its lead to six with a three-goal run of its own. The Eagles held the ball for the closing seconds as they earned a 14-8 win and handed UNC its first ACC loss since March 24, 2019 — also a loss to BC.
Who stood out?
Ortega scored the first goal of the game, and when Boston College scored five unanswered goals in the first half, it was Ortega who ended UNC’s 16:40 scoring drought to cut the deficit to three. Her three goals and one assist extended her team-leading scoring campaign to 39 goals.
Two of Ortega’s goals today were assisted by Hoeg. Hoeg passed Sydney Holman for third all-time in assists at UNC against the Eagles, and needs just four more to pass Becky Lynch for second on the program records list.
Despite allowing a career-high-tying 14 goals, goalkeeper Taylor Moreno also had 11 saves. Moreno had been No. 8 in the country in goals against average, but BC’s offense has been unstoppable this season and continued pouring shots on all game in the six goal victory.
When was it decided?
UNC looked like they were finally gaining momentum after a 3-0 run brought them within three goals with 9:22 to play. This started a four minute goal-less stretch for both teams. UNC called a timeout, and came out of the break looking to regain the momentum. After a Katie Hoeg shot almost cut the lead down to two, UNC’s McDaniels was whistled for a yellow card.
UNC head coach Jenny Levy was unhappy with the call.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder in this game that we play, and the beholder tends to be the officials,” Levy said. “It's really frustrating sometimes that you get into a game like that, they're gonna make a call like that.”
Fifty-two seconds later, BC’s Haley Cogliano scored a player-up goal to stall UNC’s momentum. The Tar Heels were unable to recover as BC reeled off three straight to put the game away.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels couldn’t get a much better test in the regular season than the top-ranked Eagles. The Eagles entered the game with the No. 2 scoring margin in the country, just ahead of UNC at No. 3. The balanced squad was on full display Saturday, as the Eagles held UNC to eight goals compared to the Tar Heels' No. 7 ranked season average of 16.11 per game.
Perhaps more impressive was the Eagles stifling defense. UNC entered the game No.1 in the country in turnovers committed per game, by a wide margin, at 10.56. The Eagles caused them to lose the ball 12 times, with ten of them coming before UNC’s 3-0 run.
The team’s sloppiness with the ball hurt them, but was uncharacteristic. When the Tar Heels tightened up their passing game late in the second half, it allowed them to bring the game back within three.
A season ago, then-No. 2 Boston College defeated then-No. 5 UNC in the regular season before the Tar Heels won their third-straight ACC title over the Eagles in the conference championship game. UNC will hope that this loss can serve as a similar wake-up call with four regular season conference games still to play.
Where do they play next?
UNC travels to Virginia Tech on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. game against the Hokies.
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