In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the No. 1 North Carolina women’s lacrosse team (19-0) defeated the Virginia Cavaliers (10-10), 24-2, Sunday afternoon at Dorrance Field.
From the first draw, the Tar Heels looked to assert their dominance.
In the first minute, graduate midfielder Ally Mastroianni found graduate attacker Sam Geiersbach cutting across the cage for a point-blank finish. Shortly after, senior attacker Jamie Ortega doubled UNC’s lead with an across-the-body finish that squeezed by the right post.
But the Tar Heels offensive onslaught was just getting started.
Graduate midfielder Ally Mastroianni sizzled a shot from just beyond the eight-meter line that found the top left pocket, increasing North Carolina's lead to 3-0. The early punch by the Tar Heels triggered a quick timeout by the Cavaliers.
However, the brief stoppage was no help for Virginia as North Carolina scored three more goals in the next four minutes. Two goals came by way of assists from sophomore attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger, whose pin-point dishes across the field set up routine goals for UNC.
Wurzburger continued to leave her mark on the game for the remainder of the first quarter.
The Delray Beach, Fla. native dished out two more assists, including one where she found Ortega from behind the cage for an open shot. By the conclusion of the first period, UNC held an astounding 9-0 lead.
Five minutes into the second quarter, the Tar Heels earned a running clock, going up by 10 goals, as Mastroianni capitalized on a woman-up opportunity. After finding herself in a one-on-one situation, the Tewaaraton Award finalist bounced a goal in on the right side of the cage.
It took 27 minutes of game time for the Wahoos to finally get on the board, as sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg netted two goals in a span of three minutes for UVA. Yet, the Tar Heels still found themselves with a sizable lead at halftime, 13-2.
The second half mirrored the same dominance seen in the first. Unassisted goals by Ortega, Geiersbach and Mastroianni helped the Tar Heels take an 18-2 lead heading into the final 15 minutes of play.
Despite many reserves coming in to start the fourth quarter, the Tar Heels kept the pressure on, scoring six more goals and defeating Virginia, 24-2.
Who stood out?
On a day that featured 14 different Tar Heels scoring goals, it was Wurzburger’s passing that led the way. Her six first-half assists marked a career-high for the sophomore attacker and helped North Carolina open up a double-digit lead quickly.
Likewise, Ortega notched four goals for North Carolina, two of which were unassisted. The senior attacker had her offensive arsenal on full display Sunday, as she made timely cuts and broke down numerous Wahoo defenders in isolation scenarios.
When was it decided?
From the jump, the Tar Heels looked to be the fresher and more in-sync team. North Carolina’s swift movement and passing helped UNC open up a three-point lead within the first few minutes of the game.
From this point on, the Tar Heels never looked back, scoring ten of the game’s next 12 goals in the first half, and triggering a running clock.
Why does it matter?
With the win, the Tar Heels advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament and are just one win away from returning to the Final Four.
Moreover, the dominance displayed by North Carolina should pay dividends in the next round. Just 20 minutes into the contest, the Tar Heels earned a running clock — leading by 10 goals — which shortened the game and preserved UNC’s legs.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will return to Dorrance Field on Thursday and play the winner of Stony Brook and Rutgers. The start time for the quarterfinals match has yet to be determined.