The undefeated No. 1 UNC women’s lacrosse team faced off against No. 2 Syracuse in Chapel Hill on Saturday morning, with the Tar Heels dominating the match to claim a 17-6 victory.
Within four minutes of the game beginning, it was tied 1-1. Syracuse scored the first goal, but it was quickly followed by a UNC response from senior attacker Scottie Rose Growney.
Growney has been a driving force in North Carolina’s success so far this season. She has already scored 31 goals in this campaign, up from 22 total goals in the shortened 2020 season and 21 goals in 2019. She also has 16 assists so far this season, an impressive jump from five assists in 2020 and four in 2019.
Growney tied her season-high of four goals on Saturday. She first reached the mark in a Feb. 28 showdown against Vanderbilt.
“Scottie was unable to have a breakout season last year because of COVID,” head coach Jenny Levy said. “She’s a really talented player. She digests the game.”
After Growney’s goal, the game took a turn for the worse for North Carolina. The 1-1 score quickly became 4-1, in favor of the Orange, but a goal from junior attacker Tayler Warehime put the Tar Heels back in the game. This goal was quickly followed by another from senior midfielder Ally Mastroianni to make the score 4-3.
Around three minutes later, Mastroianni scored again to tie it up, and fellow senior, attacker Jamie Ortega, scored twice to put the Tar Heels in the lead. Ortega’s second goal resulted in a timeout for the Orange to stop the barrage.
But the timeout couldn't stop UNC’s dominance, with another flurry of goals making the score going into halftime 10-4 in favor of the Tar Heels. Growney shot three of the team’s 13 shots in the first half, and her teammates helped her to keep UNC competitive — then dominant — against the Orange.
“Once we got our momentum, we figured out their defense,” Ortega said.
The second half of the game was off to a slower start, with neither team scoring until over six minutes into the half. Growney sustained an injury when she was fouled by a Syracuse stick hitting her in the face. This didn’t slow Growney down, however, as she scored on her free position shot to increase the Tar Heel lead to 11-4. Growney scored UNC's first goal of the half in both halves of Saturday’s game.
“We knew there were going to be some fouls,” Growney said.
After Growney’s goal put UNC up 11-4, Syracuse scored for the first time since the first half. Redshirt senior attacker Katie Hoeg scored to bring the UNC lead back to seven with 20 minutes of playing time remaining. Growney scored again after the timeout for her third goal of the game. A foul by Syracuse resulted in a free position goal from Ortega. Another foul followed, allowing Growney to score once again.
“A lot of it has to do with the confidence the coaches have instilled in me,” Growney said. “They have so much trust in me.”
Redshirt sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Hillman then scored to bring the North Carolina lead to 10. Hoeg scored the game’s final goal with less than a minute left, making the final score 17-6.
In a matchup of the two top teams in the country, North Carolina's dominant performance showed the Tar Heels to be clear national title favorites.
Growney’s offensive dominance was a large part of Saturday's Tar Heel win, but so was senior goalkeeper Taylor Moreno's impressive shot stopping. Moreno tied her season-high of 11 saves against Syracuse. She reiterated Growney’s sentiment that the team's success is the product of collective trust.
“They had all the confidence in me,” Moreno said.