The UNC women’s lacrosse team suited up and took Dorrance Field for the first time in the 2020 season for an exhibition match against Elon on Saturday. The Tar Heels rolled to victory with a final score of 20-3 — a score that nearly mirrored the 20-2 win they had over the Phoenix in the early stages of last year's regular season.
Junior attacker Jamie Ortega had a standout game, scoring six goals and facilitating a high-powered offensive attack throughout the afternoon.
In her first year as a Tar Heel in 2018, Ortega shattered the previous rookie scoring record by a staggering 20 goals, putting 70 in the back of the net. With all of the accolades and success Ortega has seen so far, the expectations for her as she heads into her junior year as an upperclassman leader are certainly high.
“She’ll be a really keyed in player for us,” head coach Jenny Levy said. “She’s worked really hard to improve her game and to build it out some more so she’s more dynamic.”
While Levy acknowledges the importance of having a player like Ortega, she also said it’s really all about how the team plays together as a unit.
“(Ortega) will tell you this too, the rest of her teammates around her are just as important,” Levy said. “If we all just sit around and watch her play and depend on her without any support and dynamic play, it’s not going to work for us so much.”
The effort of Ortega’s teammates was evident against the Phoenix. The Tar Heels mounted a balanced scoring attack with eight different scorers on the day, including five other players with multiple goals on the afternoon.
In addition to Ortega, junior midfielder Scottie Rose Growney and graduate transfer Ida Farinholt both contributed hat trick outings, posting three goals apiece.
Levy said she appreciated the opportunity to see what her personnel had to offer before North Carolina makes an attempt at following up last year's successful season and another deep postseason run.
“We were just trying to see what people can do out there,” Levy said. “What their instincts are, how the training has been effective for them and transferred to game day and what the chemistry looks like out there.”
There was no better play to illustrate the team’s chemistry than the final play of the first half. The Tar Heels forced a turnover from the Phoenix and scooped up the ground ball with less than 10 seconds on the clock. In six passes, they moved the ball all the way up from just behind the midfield line and scored on a last-second shot to close out the half.
“That’s a mark of our team,” Levy said. “Obviously we have some really keyed in kids for the year in Ortega and (Katie) Hoeg, but ultimately we're going to be as strong as the seven-man unit can be.”
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