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Kara Klages and Tayler Warehime help deliver UNC women's lacrosse a win over Syracuse

Katie Hoeg Syracuse
Women's lacrosse junior Katie Hoeg throws the ball over defenders during a game against Syracuse on April 13, 2019. UNC beat Syracuse 11-5.

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. 

Against the Orange, Ortega’s mere presence on the field was enough to make an impact – even without the goals that usually accompany it. 

“She talks with us whenever she’s in a face-guard, and she directs the field even though she’s face-guarded,” Klages said. “She makes such a big impact.”

Klages’ three goals were a season high and the most she’s scored in a game since scoring five against Syracuse on two occasions last season. 

Heading into the game, Klages said UNC associate head coach Katrina Dowd instructed her to “fake high, non-stick side.” 

“She kept putting that in my brain all week,” Klages said. 

The advice worked, as Klages made the most of the space provided to her by Syracuse’s zone defense. In the first half, Klages’ second goal of the day gave the lead back to UNC at 4-3 after a 3-0 run by the Orange, and her final score helped put the game away, giving UNC a 10-4 advantage with just over nine minutes remaining. 

The only Tar Heel to outscore Klages was Warehime, whose strong start to the second half gave UNC the separation it needed. 

After scoring once in the first half, Warehime notched three goals in a 2:22 stretch within the first seven minutes of the second half to help UNC jump out to an 8-3 lead. 

Warehime is in just her first season at the collegiate level, but she’s no stranger to making game-changing plays. Her other four-goal performance came in the season opener against James Madison, and she notched the game-winning goal last month against Virginia. Saturday’s showing against Syracuse was more proof that Warehime could be a key player down the stretch. 

“She’s adjusting great to being a freshman and handling all the different things that are thrown at freshmen the first time,” Levy said. 

At the moment, the Hampstead, Md., native is working on “being able to play everywhere as a player.” 

“So when they scout teams, they don’t really know who to guard,” said Warehime, who now is tied for the second-most goals on the team with 24. 

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On Saturday, it looked like Syracuse didn’t know who to guard – other than Ortega. 

Whether or not the rest of UNC’s attackers can replicate this most recent performance could go a long way in determining how dangerous of a team UNC is moving forward. 

“We have to be very dynamic offensively, and Jamie is super talented … a lot of confidence in what she can do,” Levy said. “But it’s really important that all seven attackers are a threat.”

@Brennan_Doherty

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com