As the North Carolina women’s lacrosse team inches closer toward postseason play, there will likely be times where a repeat of what happened on Saturday plays out.
Determined to make No. 5 UNC’s leading scorer a non-factor, Syracuse attached a defender at Jamie Ortega’s hip, face-guarding the Tar Heel sophomore responsible for a team-best 52 goals. With every step Ortega took, Syracuse’s Allyson Trice was right there, mirroring her every move from one foot away.
Against the Orange, Ortega was held scoreless, taking just one shot. The mark was well below her previous season-low of four shots, which came in a loss against Boston College. Ortega barely had enough room to take a breath, much less get off a shot.
All the extra attention paid to Ortega did Syracuse little good, however. UNC’s offense went about its business, using a team effort to beat the No. 3 Orange 11-5 at the UNC Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium.
In doing so, the Tar Heels (11-3, 4-2 ACC) showed they have several offensive weapons, both young and old, ready to step up and support the dynamic duo of Ortega and junior Katie Hoeg (career-high six assists on Saturday), who have combined for 139 points this season.
Against Syracuse, first-year attacker Tayler Warehime matched a career high with four goals, and Kara Klages and Gianna Bowe each made the most of their senior day, combining for five scores.
The Orange took Ortega out of the game but didn’t know what to do with her supporting cast.
“It didn’t surprise me to see other kids step up because we know that they can,” UNC head coach Jenny Levy said. “But if Jamie’s going to get shut off, that’s what’s going to need to happen. If Jamie wasn’t shut off, I’m sure she would have had a day.”
There’s good reason for Levy to be that bullish on Ortega’s ability to impact a game. Entering Saturday, she had recorded five consecutive multi-goal games, including a six-goal performance last time out against Louisville.