DURHAM – Jenny Levy thought the third-ranked North Carolina women’s lacrosse team played its best offensive game all season long Saturday night. And yet the Tar Heels coach wasn’t completely satisfied with what she saw.
“I thought we didn’t finish as well as we’d like to, but credit to Duke’s goalie,” Levy said.
Finishing aside, the Tar Heels still managed to match their highest offensive output of conference play in a 19-5 win at rival No. 13 Duke in the regular-season finale Saturday night. That Levy thought her team left a few on the board speaks to how well UNC (12-3, 5-2 ACC) is playing at the moment.
With the win, UNC earned the No. 2 seed and will take on No. 7 seed Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals of the upcoming ACC Tournament, which opens Wednesday in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, home of the nation’s top-ranked team, Boston College. The Eagles will surely be the favorites, especially on their home turf. But one seed behind them is a UNC group that believes it’s getting better day by day, peaking at the right time.
There was ample evidence of that Saturday night, as the Tar Heels were dominant in nearly every facet of the game. They peppered the Blue Devils with 29 shots on goal, were successful on every clear attempt (20 of 20) and coaxed Duke into 20 turnovers, three more than the amount of shots the Blue Devils recorded (17).
“It went awesome,” UNC sophomore attacker Jamie Ortega said. “This is a rival that’s huge within our school, and it’s just such an awesome game; it’s great competition. I think we started with great energy.”
Ortega led the way with a six-goal, two-assist performance that came one week after she recorded just one shot in UNC’s win against Syracuse. On that day, she was face-guarded from start to finish, her mere presence making an impact and opening up opportunities for her teammates. Against Duke, Ortega’s impact showed up on the box score. But she wasn’t the only story of the night.
Junior attacker Olivia Ferrucci matched a career high with five goals, and junior attacker Katie Hoeg’s five-assist performance gave her 50 on the season, tying the UNC single-season record she set last year.
The Tar Heels scored goals in numerous fashions: in transition, like the time just over midway through the first half when Ortega forced a turnover, started the fastbreak and finished a give-and-go with Hoeg from close range; in the set offense, including another Hoeg-to-Ortega connection that caused trouble for the Blue Devils; and on free-position shots, as senior midfielder Kara Klages and sophomore midfielder Ally Mastroianni each did in two-goal performances.