The No. 1 UNC women’s lacrosse team (18-0, 8-0 ACC) defended its home turf in Saturday’s ACC Championship game with a 16-9 win over No. 2 Boston College (16-3, 6-2 ACC).
Top-seeded UNC took an early lead in Saturday’s ACC championship game with a goal by senior midfielder Brooklyn Neumen.
Boston College quickly rallied back to even the score at one. The Eagles then took the lead with 8:27 remaining in the first period. Boston College got up 3-1 before UNC fifth-year attacker Jamie Ortega was able to lessen her team’s deficit with a goal to end the first period.
The Eagles continued to assert their dominance in the second quarter, with a goal less than three minutes into the period. The Tar Heels didn’t let them keep this two-point lead for long. Graduate midfielder Ally Mastroianni fired back with a goal of her own, assisted by Ortega, that brought the Boston College lead back to one. Here, the Eagles seemed to lose their footing, with several unsuccessful shots and a shot-clock violation.
UNC’s offense failed to take advantage of struggles by the Eagles. North Carolina also had many missed shots, totalling nine by the end of the first half. This eventually caught up with UNC when Boston College scored to make the score 5-3 with 3:42 remaining in the second quarter.
Both teams would score again before the half ended. A much-needed goal late in the second period came from fifth-year attacker Scottie Rose Growney. Assisted by Ortega, this goal made the score 6-4 after the second quarter.
The Tar Heels scored less goals in the first half of this game than in any other game this season. Despite this, UNC looked like a completely different team in the second half.
Ortega made a goal just over a minute into the third period to limit the Eagles to a slim one-goal lead. UNC tied things up with a goal by graduate attacker Andie Aldave with 12:09 remaining in the third. Aldave was aided by redshirt junior midfielder Elizabeth Hillman.
North Carolina quickly turned the two-goal deficit they entered the half with into a lead with Matroianni’s second goal of the night. A mere 40 seconds later, Growney scored to advance the North Carolina lead to 8-6. An impressive save by Tar Heel goalkeeper Taylor Moreno on a shot from Boston College’s Charlotte North maintained this two-goal lead.
This save helped boost momentum for North Carolina. The team scored quickly thereafter with yet another goal by Ortega. The Tar Heel lead was advanced to four with a goal by Aldave assisted by graduate attacker Sam Geiersbach.
This streak of UNC goals was followed by some turnovers and sloppy possessions. However, it didn’t stop North Carolina from continuing to advance its lead. Aldave scored her third goal of the game, assisted by Ortega. Moreno had another strong save to end the third period with an 11-6 North Carolina lead.
The Tar Heels proved early on in the final quarter that they were not satisfied with their five-goal lead. Growney scored her third goal of the game, assisted by sophomore attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger, with 13:59 left on the clock. Mastroianni had her third goal of the night to advance the UNC lead to seven. Ortega, assisted by Aldave, brought this lead up to 14-6.
The Eagles scored two of only three Boston College goals in the second half within the next four minutes. Growney then scored for UNC with 5:26 left on the clock. The Eagles followed with a late-game goal to lessen the Tar Heel lead to six.
North Carolina had its final goal of the night with 1:23 remaining. Wurzburger’s goal, assisted by Ortega, fixed the score at 16-9, and secured the ACC Championship win for UNC.
Who stood out?
Ortega became the ACC career points leader in Saturday night’s game. She needed four points to beat the record of 445 points, which she achieved with her second goal early in the third period. However, she didn’t stop there. Ortega had an additional goal and two assists in the third period, and a fourth goal and fifth assist in the final quarter. She ended the game with 451 points.
Several UNC players also contributed to the team’s offensive dominance in the second half of the game. Mastroianni and Aldave each had three goals and Growney had four. These players aided in the team’s high-scoring win.
When was it decided?
Despite North Carolina’s early efforts to battle back against a strong Boston College offense, UNC was not able to even the score in the first half after the tie at one at the beginning of the first quarter. Things looked grim for the Tar Heels heading into halftime.
However, North Carolina came out hot to start the second half. The Tar Heels scored as many goals in the first five minutes of the third quarter as they did in the entirety of the first half. After the third period, it became clear that North Carolina would most likely walk away with the win, but the Tar Heels continued to prove it in the fourth.
The Tar Heel offensive dominance continued for the remainder of the game. This, combined by a strong performance by Moreno in the cage, held the Eagles to only three goals in the second half.
Why does it matter?
This win serves as UNC’s sixth consecutive ACC title, a feat only matched by Maryland. Head coach Jenny Levy won her seventh ACC title tonight, breaking the record for the most in ACC history. She and Ortega’s record-breaking performances on Saturday, combined with the team’s sixth consecutive ACC title, demonstrate the dominance of the Tar Heel women’s lacrosse program.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will now prepare for the NCAA Tournament, which begins on Friday.
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