DURHAM –The third-ranked North Carolina women’s lacrosse team went into Saturday’s season finale with a couple of things on the line: a lengthy winning streak against its biggest rival and the No. 2 seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament.
The Tar Heels delivered on both fronts with a 19-5 victory over Duke at Koskinen Stadium, their ninth straight against the Blue Devils, one that gave them the tiebreaker over Notre Dame and Syracuse for the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament, which begins Wednesday.
The Tar Heels (12-3, 5-2 ACC), Orange and Fighting Irish each went 5-2 in conference play and each team went 1-1 against one another. Additionally, the three teams all had identical ACC records against the remainder of the league.
By virtue of goal differential in games involving UNC, Notre Dame and Syracuse, the Tar Heels earned the No. 2 seed and will face No. 7 seed Virginia Tech in Chestnut Hills, Mass., on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament.
The Tar Heels enter the postseason having won four of their last five, and it was business as usual Saturday night, with sophomore attacker Jamie Ortega leading the way with a six-goal performance one week after taking just one shot against Syracuse.
UNC made sure Duke wouldn’t feed off senior night emotions and instead were the aggressors early on. The Tar Heels scored the game’s first two goals thanks to Ortega and junior attacker Olivia Ferrucci.
After the Blue Devils’ Olivia Jenner made it 2-1, the Tar Heels responded through senior midfielder Kara Klages, who scored twice in 35 seconds. Klages now has five goals in her last two games, after scoring three times in a win over Syracuse last week.
Initially, the Blue Devils showed some resolve and cut UNC’s lead to one, 4-3, as Jenner tacked on a second. Sophomore attacker Charlotte North, who entered with the second-best goals per game average in the country (4.47), then scored on a free-position shot.