Senior attacker Jamie Ortega reached yet another career milestone on Sunday when she became the all-time goals leader for UNC women's lacrosse.
Five minutes into the second period of the No. 1 Tar Heels' 17-6 rout of Vanderbilt, Ortega found herself in a one-on-one situation. She beat her defender with a quick first-step, cutting to the left and burying the ball into the back of the net for an unassisted goal, the 199th of her career.
In just 54 games, Ortega surpassed the almost-7-year-old record. It took the previous record-holder, Abbey Friend, 81 games to accomplish the feat.
“Yes, I’m the one who broke the record, but it's such a team accomplishment,” Ortega said. “I mean, everyone out here just makes me a better player and helps me prepare to be my best self when I’m out there.”
Ortega’s score was nothing too flashy, but it demonstrated her incredible offensive efficiency. The record-breaker was her fourth goal of the game in just four shots. Her career 3.69 goals per game are the best in program history. Ortega also added three assists to her stat line for a team-high seven points.
Ortega is no stranger to accolades over her four seasons at UNC. She and her teammate, senior Katie Hoeg, were named Co-National Players of the Year by Inside Lacrosse last season, and the duo sits atop the all-time points list for UNC at No. 1 and 2.
Add fellow All-American senior Scottie Rose Growney to that, and UNC has one of the best attack squads in the nation. Growney, who notched four goals and an assist on Sunday, attributed the offense’s success to chemistry.
“I think something that makes it so special is that we’re all very, very close with each other off the field, and that really does translate to our chemistry on the field,” Growney said. “If I pass the ball to Jamie, I know that she’s going to do what she’s going to do and score a goal.”
Head coach Jenny Levy praised Ortega after the game for the leadership she has demonstrated over the past few seasons.
“Last year we started to see her emerge vocally as a leader,” Levy said. "She leads by action, she leads by words. I think she has a high standard for what she wants to see, both in practice and on the games, and if we’re not matching that standard she’s the first to say ‘Hey, we need to do this better.’”
Ortega's accomplishment shows just how much of an impact she has had since she first took the field for the Tar Heels. Even in her first season with a dynastic UNC program, Ortega made an immediate impact.
She set first-year records for goals and points in the 2018 campaign, and she's been an offensive force ever since.
“Honestly I didn’t really know I was that close to breaking the record, those are things I just don’t really pay attention to and kind of focus on,” Ortega said. "My mind was just on winning today and being a good teammate.”
As Ortega leads the charge with 26 points this year, the Tar Heels are off to a hot start at 5-0, including victories against top-five teams in the nation, such as Stony Brook and Florida.
If the Tar Heels hope to reach their national championship potential, Ortega will be tasked with helping lead the team along the way.
“She’s humble, she’s hardworking, she’s tough, and she’s very talented,” Levy said. “She can beat you one-on-one, she can beat you off-ball, and she can beat you by feeding. So when you’re looking at creating a great attacker, those are the three things they need to be able to do.”
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