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Tuesday September 21st

No. 1 UNC women's lacrosse looks to finish a historic season with a title

UNC first year attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger (13) hits the ball right through the goalies legs to score a goal at the game against Virginia on Sunday Apr. 18, 2021 at the Dorrance Field. UNC won 15-4.
Buy Photos UNC first year attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger (13) hits the ball right through the goalies legs to score a goal at the game against Virginia on Sunday Apr. 18, 2021 at the Dorrance Field. UNC won 15-4.

Dominant.

That’s how to describe the North Carolina women’s lacrosse team this season. 

The Tar Heels are firmly ranked as the No. 1 team in the country and are on a 21-game win streak dating back to last season, which breaks the record for the longest winning streak in program history.

UNC is 14-0 this season, the best start in school history, shattering the previous 11-0 record. Of the 14 wins, 12 of them have been against top-25 foes, with six being against top-10 opponents.

Standout attacker Jamie Ortega has led the charge. The senior has scored a goal in 28 straight games and has 58 multi-goal games in her career. While Ortega is the finisher, redshirt senior Katie Hoeg is the primary facilitator. She has the most assists in school history, including the 42 she has compiled this season. The two have formed a dynamic duo that has helped the Tar Heels remain a powerhouse. 

On the defensive side, senior goalkeeper Taylor Moreno has been just as important to her team's success. She now has a career record of 43-5 in goal.

The list of jaw-dropping records goes on and on.

“I literally have goosebumps thinking about the potential that we have,” Ortega said in an interview on April 14. “We haven’t even hit it yet. We’re still building and fighting for that, but this year is special, especially with all the adversity we’ve been going through, and challenges and COVID. It’s really taught us a lot.”

With all of this success, it can be easy for players to let their foot off the pedal. That’s something Ortega doesn’t want happening with the postseason creeping up.

“You just have to kind of sharpen up now because after the regular season, it’s the ACC championship," Ortega said. "And those playoff games, if you don’t come to play, you’re out. And following that, if you don’t come to play, you’re out. And our plan is to make it all the way.”

Not everything has gone according to plan, though. A date against No. 5 Notre Dame on April 10 helped North Carolina remain focused. In this game, the Tar Heels won 11-10, but didn’t control the full 60 minutes of the game as they usually do. They have won every other match by more than five goals. 

“I think at the end of the day, we definitely took Notre Dame as a learning point for us, and I think going forward it’s certainly going to help us when we start to get into tough competition in terms of ACC tournament and the NCAA tournament,” Moreno said in an April 14 interview. “It’s definitely going to be something we continue to move forward from.”

The Tar Heels quickly returned to normalcy when they throttled No. 8 Virginia twice, with the latest being a 15-4 Senior Day win on Sunday.

“We’re just so grateful that we got the girls the opportunity to come back whose seasons basically got cut short last season, and to win this whole thing at the end with them being the spear-headers and leaders of this group will certainly be something special,” Moreno said.

But the road to the championship isn’t a walk in the park. The Tar Heels will travel to Durham to face No. 7 Duke in their season finale, before hosting the ACC Tournament the following week. 

One thing is for sure: the Tar Heels will continue to be the team everyone’s looking to dethrone.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com 




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