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No. 1 UNC women's lacrosse defeats No. 8 Stony Brook, 8-5, to advance to NCAA Final Four

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Junior midfielders Livi Lawton (14) and Olivia Dirks (27) run and jump for the ball during a faceoff in the NCAA quarterfinals. At halftime, UNC is losing 3-4 to Stony Brook.

In the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, the No. 1 North Carolina women’s lacrosse team (20-0) defeated the No. 8 Stony Brook Seawolves (16-3), 8-5, on Thursday night at Dorrance Field.

What happened?

The Seawolves’ compact yet aggressive defense stifled the Tar Heel offense on the first possession. Shortly after, Stony Brook midfielder Ellie Masera fired a shot past UNC graduate goalkeeper Taylor Moreno into the bottom right corner of the cage within the first three minutes.

North Carolina’s first score of the game came off a free position shot from senior midfielder Brooklyn Neumen. Minutes later, senior attacker Scottie Rose Growney lobbed the ball to a cutting graduate attacker Sam Geiersbach, who jumped up and slung it in for UNC’s second goal.

Early in the second period, a free position shot from UNC junior midfielder Elizabeth Hillman extended the Tar Heel lead to 3-1. North Carolina’s defense forced two shot clock violations on the Stony Brook offense, but the relentless Seawolves kept getting quality looks only to be stopped by Moreno.

Midway through the second quarter, Stony Brook midfielder Jaden Hampel spun through multiple UNC defenders for an unassisted goal. Almost immediately out of a Stony Brook timeout, Hampel equalized the score with another unassisted goal from the right side. 

The Seawolves closed out the half with a strong defensive showing followed by notching their first assisted goal of the game to put Stony Brook up 4-3 at halftime.

The Tar Heels tied the game early in the second half when sophomore attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger skipped the ball over to Geiersbach, who caught it to the right of the cage and slung it in. After several back-and-forth possessions that all ended scoreless, Masera netted her second goal of the game.

A chaotic Tar Heel offensive possession ended when graduate attacker Andie Aldave found Wurzburger standing right next to the cage. Wurzburger faked the shot, got goalkeeper Charlie Campbell to bite, then dumped the ball inside the cage.

UNC extended its lead early in the fourth period when graduate attacker Jamie Ortega found Aldave to put the Tar Heels up 7-5. After milking several minutes off the shot clock, Aldave completed her hat trick with less than two minutes to play for the dagger.

Who stood out? 

On a night where superstars Ortega and graduate midfielder Ally Mastroianni struggled to find the back of the net, Moreno anchored the Tar Heels with ten saves, several of which were easy scoring opportunities for the Seawolves.

For Stony Brook, Hampel and Masera early on with their unassisted goals that put pressure on UNC heading into halftime.

When was it decided?

The back-and-forth bout shifted towards North Carolina when Ortega’s first point of the game came in the fourth quarter off an assist to Aldave that gave the Tar Heels a comfortable two-goal lead.

Why does it matter?

Throughout the entire season, dominance — particularly on the offensive end — has come naturally to the Tar Heels.

But the zone defense and full-field press from the Seawolves forced UNC’s offense into late shot-clock situations — many of which ended with an errant shot. Tonight challenged North Carolina to find yet another way to close out games, strengthening the versatility the team will need if it wants to complete its NCAA Championship redemption tour.

When do they play next?

North Carolina advances to the Final Four and will play the No. 4 Northwestern Wildcats in Baltimore on May 27.

@danielhwei

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com


Daniel Wei

Daniel Wei is a 2023-24 assistant sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as a senior writer. Daniel is a junior pursuing a double major in business administration and economics.