Some things are just meant to go together: peanut butter and jelly, thunder and lightning, Tar and Heels, and Katie Hoeg and Jamie Ortega.
The senior attack duo combined for 10 points in the UNC women’s lacrosse team's 14-9 win against James Madison in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at Dorrance Field.
Ortega scored four goals, while Hoeg netted two of her own to go along with four assists, three of which fed Ortega goals. The Tar Heel greats displayed the chemistry they have with one another on the field, a connection that stems from their relationship away from the lacrosse field.
“Even when we’re practicing, we’re messing around, we’re playing with each other, just figuring out things that work for one another," Ortega said. "I just enjoy the company. She’s so fun to play with, her IQ is off the charts, so I think that we just play so well together because we’re just great friends.”
The Colonial Athletic Association champion Dukes played the Tar Heels close the entire game, even taking an early 4-2 lead. But the tandem of Hoeg and Ortega led the way for a UNC comeback, connecting on a goal that tied the game at 4 in the first half. Hoeg assisted on the next goal to give the Tar Heels a 5-4 lead that they would not relinquish.
In the second period, Hoeg again assisted on an Ortega goal with just over 10 minutes remaining to start a four-goal run by UNC. The run ended with Hoeg's second goal of the game, coming off a pass from sophomore attacker Melissa Sconone to make the score 14-8.
“Katie and Jamie have seen it all through the course of their time here at Carolina,” head coach Jenny Levy said. “The ability to adjust and adapt as the game has been presented to them and play what’s in front of them is really unique, and they’re always on the same page and always trying to help us win.”
Prior to their second-round meeting on Sunday, UNC had faced James Madison nearly two months ago on March 21, when the Tar Heels won handily 15-5. Both teams have grown since their midseason matchup, and their familiarity with each other was evident in the tightly played contest.
“It was an interesting combination. I think it was easy (to prepare) since we were familiar with them,” Hoeg said. “Teams change, though. They weren’t the same team, we weren’t the same team, so in that sense, it was a little harder. We like to say the game has no memory.”
The Tar Heels will have to bring that same mentality and intensity to their quarterfinal matchup. They will play No. 8 seed Stony Brook, whom they defeated in their season opener 14-7. Three months have passed since then, and UNC has played 18 more games. The duo of Hoeg and Ortega will be crucial if the Tar Heels want to keep their title hopes alive.