BALTIMORE, Md. — The No. 1 seed North Carolina women’s lacrosse team (22-0) defeated the No. 3 seed Boston College (19-4), 12-11, in the NCAA championship game at Homewood Field on Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles won the first draw control. UNC immediately looked to double team attacker Charlotte North, opening up the inside for a good look from attacker Caitlynn Mossman, but it was saved by graduate goalkeeper Taylor Moreno.
The Tar Heels struck first when graduate attacker Sam Geiersbach converted a free position shot on UNC’s first offensive possession. After North Carolina’s back line defense stifled the Eagles, Geiersbach struck again on an isolation opportunity near the right crease.
The Eagles got on the board when North broke free and sidearmed the ball into the cage. Minutes later, North capitalized on backing down fifth-year defender Emma Trenchard near the right crease, spinning her way to another goal and tying the game 2-2.
The Tar Heels immediately answered with a goal from graduate attacker Andie Aldave off an assist from junior defender Emily Nalls. Graduate midfielder Ally Mastroianni and junior midfielder Olivia Dirks added two more goals to put UNC up 5-2 to close out the second quarter.
Boston College midfielder Cassidy Weeks scored to open the second quarter. UNC graduate attacker Jamie Ortega converted a free position shot, but the Eagles quickly responded with a goal from attacker Jenn Medjid.
North Carolina went up 7-4 with 2:05 left in the first half on a woman-up opportunity, when fifth-year attacker Scottie Rose Growney swung the ball inside to sophomore attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger. With under 30 seconds left in the half, Weeks notched her second goal to trim UNC’s lead to 7-5 heading into the second half.
Both teams slowed down in the third quarter, with the Eagle defense forcing errant shots from the Tar Heels’ attacking unit. Any quality looks were saved by goalkeeper Rachel Hall. North went on a two-goal tear — one on a free position shot, the other weaving past Trenchard to put Boston College up 8-7. Mastroianni ended UNC’s scoring drought and equalized the game with under a minute left in the third quarter.
The teams quickly traded goals to open the fourth quarter. Boston College midfielder Kayla Martello netted her first goal of the day, followed by Ortega breaking free down the field all by herself for her second goal.
One minute later, Aldave dished the ball to junior midfielder Nicole Humphrey inside, who scored to take the lead, 10-9. With under 10 minutes left to play, Martello’s shot ricocheted off Moreno’s stick, but the ball fell right into midfielder Belle Smith’s pocket, who scored.
With under six minutes left in the 2022 season, Geiersbach soloed another goal after a quiet three quarters to give North Carolina an 11-10 edge. Rose Growney nailed a shot with 2:23 left to take a firm 12-10 lead. With Moreno’s two huge saves.
Moreno came up with two huge saves, but with under 20 seconds left to play, Weeks found the back of the cage to make the game 12-11. However, there wasn’t enough time to get the ball back to North, and the Tar Heels emerged victorious.
Who stood out?
North was almost unstoppable all afternoon for Boston College.
The 2021 Tewaaraton Award recipient finished with four goals on ten shots. She drew double teams, winded up free position shots and drew the most attention from UNC’s back line.
But it was Moreno who made 11 saves, including a pair of crucial stops down the stretch. The sixth-year goalkeeper came off a lackluster performance against Northwestern in the Final Four and anchored the Tar Heels to its first national championship since 2016.
When was it decided?
As evidenced by the previous comeback over Northwestern, no lead is safe in May.
The championship wasn’t decided until the final seconds, when, after the frantic scramble for the final draw control, the ball was lobbed downfield to Wurzburger as the seconds ticked off the clock.
Why does it matter?
It was the final collegiate game for several UNC legends like Ortega, Mastroianni and Moreno. After years of coming up short to Boston College in the Final Four, North Carolina completed its redemption tour and its first perfect season in program history.
When do they play next?
The win concludes the end of the 2022 NCAA women’s lacrosse season.