UNC Women's Lacrosse

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Month: May 2021

Why UNC Lost to BC

Two days ago we wrote, “Jamie Ortega is given a hat trick, Katie Hoeg will have four or five assists and Ally Mastroianni, Scottie Rose Growney, Caitlyn Wurzburger and Tayler Warehime are going to combine for six to eight goals.”

Ortega scored a single goal and Mastroianni, Growney and Warehime combined for two goals. While we have often touted this UNC team as one of the most talented women’s collegiate lacrosse teams ever, that is simply not the case. When Jamie Ortega is taken out of the game, the 2021 UNC team is just above average. Although we didn’t want to believe it, we saw signs of this reality in the Duke game to finish out the regular season.

While Taylor Moreno did not have her best game of the year, the UNC defense did all they could to slow down the Eagles. If you would have said that UNC would have won the draw circle 16-7 and Charlotte North would have two goals, anyone that watches women’s lacrosse would say it would be a UNC blowout. Instead, we learned what we didn’t want to believe. This UNC team does not have an elite supporting cast in the attack zone.

Jamie Ortega and Katie Hoeg are elite. They will go down as the best scoring tandem in ACC women’s lacrosse. That said, when you take Ortega out of the game, UNC does not have another attacker to pick up the slack.

Caitlyn Wurzburger has improved into a fantastic player and will have an All-American career at UNC but she is the only attacker that can get the ball in the back of the net when Ortega is either being face guarded or out of the game. The stats for Ally Mastroianni, Scottie Rose Growney, Tayler Warehime and Kerrigan Miller have diminished throughout the season. We joked that the best half of women’s lacrosse we’ve ever seen was during the first half versus Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament. After that half, UNC was never the same team and it is because the supporting case, well, wasn’t supporting of Ortega and Hoeg.

It is hard to believe that Katie Hoeg and Catie Woodruff will leave UNC having never won a game in the Final Four. When looking back on the 2016 and 2013 National Championship teams, the scoring was distributed amongst several players. In the final games of 2021, the goal scoring came from only Ortega, Hoeg and Wurzburger. Ally Mastroianni, Scottie Rose Growney, Tayler Warehime and Kerrigan Miller were basically non existent on the UNC attack. Versus Boston College these four attackers/midfielders were 3-20 shooting.

If Jenny Levy and UNC have the dreams of capturing another National Championship, their second tier attackers are going to need to score. While Charlotte North only had two goals, the supporting cast of Jenn Medjid, Belle Smith and Caitlynn Mossman were 6-12 shooting.

In the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the goals for the three games were as follows:

  • Ally Mastroianni – 2 goals
  • Scottie Rose Growney – 3 goals
  • Tayler Warehime – 6 goals (0 in the Final Four)
  • Kerrigan Miller – 2 goals

Boston College – 2021 Final Four Preview

We are less than 48 hours from UNC and Northwestern attempting to keep their perfect seasons alive and advance to the 2021 National Championship game. Both teams will face stiff tests but in much different ways. Northwestern will take on their first true top 5 opponent of the season and one of the best zone defenses in women’s lacrosse. UNC will face a Boston College team that not only is looking for revenge after a 21-9 defeat in the regular season, but has also advanced to the last two National Championship games.

Let’s be clear, this Boston College team is nothing like the last two teams to advance to the National Championship game. Sam Apuzzo, Dempsey Arsenault and Kenzie Kent have moved on and Charlotte North has transferred in from Duke. The team still has the same aggressive personality but it is a different cast of characters.

The difficult part of this game for Boston College is UNC excels against man to man defenses. When UNC has struggled this year, it has been against zone defenses that pack in the 8 meter and dare the Tar Heels to try and find cutters. If there is one thing this UNC offensive attack isn’t extraordinary at, it is taking a defender one-v-one, dodging and going to cage. While Ally Mastroianni, Scottie Rose Growney and Jamie Ortega have that skill, no one would pick them as an elite dodger. In fact, some would argue Nicole Humphrey is the best dodging attacker on the team. Kerrigan Miller has amazing split dodge skills but she isn’t the scorer the others are.

None of that matters when you have room against man to man defenses. UNC struggled against Syracuse, Stony Brook and Duke when they sat in a zone for much, if not all, of the game. That said, the Tar Heels still came out victorious. It will be interesting to see if Boston College attempts to sprinkle in some zone defense during this game. Unfortunately, zone defenses aren’t something a team can pick up in one week. Syracuse’s Gary Gait has worked on perfecting his zone defense for years. Just to put in perspective how good UNC is when they can find cutters, the Tar Heels had 182 assists on 318 goals (57%). Boston College had 137 assists on 325 goals (42%).

The one clear advantage Boston College has on the stats sheet is the draw control. Charlotte North has 170 draw controls and BC has 361 as a team versus their opponents which had 218. Ally Mastroianni has 104 draw controls and UNC has 266 versus their opponents which had 213.

When UNC is challenged, it is when the opposition controls the draw circle. If UNC controls the draw, the game is basically over. No defense can stop UNC’s offense repeatedly when they are forced to defend without rest. Boston College will need to win the draw controls and have huge games from Charlotte North, Jenn Medjid and Belle Smith if they plan to upset the #1 and undefeated Tar Heels.

All that being said, we know when UNC brings their best, no one can beat them. Stony Brook played the best 52 minutes of lacrosse they could and still ended up losing in the Elite 8. Jamie Ortega is given a hat trick, Katie Hoeg will have four or five assists and Ally Mastroianni, Scottie Rose Growney, Caitlyn Wurzburger and Tayler Warehime are going to combine for six to eight goals. When you look at the numbers, Boston College has to shut down two of the four not named Hoeg or Ortega. Even if they do that, Melissa Sconone, Kerrigan Miller and Nicole Humphrey all have the ability to add a few goals.

We are not saying Boston College cannot win this game. What we are saying is the Eagles will have to play the best 60 minutes of the year to knock off one of the most talented rosters in the history of women’s lacrosse.

The Stony Brook Scare

With a 26 gaming winning streak and the perfect season on the line, the UNC Tar Heels got their biggest scare of the season. With just over 8 minutes left in the game, Stony Brook took an 11-9 lead and seemed to be in control having won three of the previous draw controls. Jenny Levy called a time out and trusted the leadership of her upperclassmen to play the best 8 minutes of lacrosse in their career. What happened after that time out was magical.

The Tar Heels found a way to start winning draw controls which lead to offensive possessions. Throughout much of the game Stony Brook’s zone defense confused and frustrated the Tar Heel offense. Rare turnovers by Jamie Ortega and Katie Hoeg lead to Stony Brook goals. After the time out, that all changed.  Jenny Levy put Emma Trenchard on the draw control circle and the comeback began.

With 7:34 left in the game Scottie Rose Growney scored on an assist from Jamie Ortega to cut the lead to one.  The Tar Heels gained another draw control from Kerrigan Miller and subsequently scored on a Hoag to Ortega goal. This tied the game at 11. UNC took the lead on a goal from Tayler Warehime assisted by Jamie Ortega. The Seawolves controlled the next draw but were swarmed by a collapsing UNC defense and didn’t get a shot off.

The Tar Heels had an opportunity to extend the lead with an Ally Mastroianni free position from the 8 meter. Mastroianni took two extra steps to create an angle and scored with ease giving UNC a 13-11 lead with 2:37 left in the game. The finishes touches were applied by Katie Hoeg as she scored unassisted with 1:14 seconds left in the game.

While the draw controls and UNC offensive barrage were most noticed it should be stated that Stony Brook did not get a shot on goal in the final 8 minutes of the game. After Taryn Ohlmiller gave Stony Brook the 11-9 lead with 8:41 in the game, the Seavwolves were held without a shot on goal for the rest of the game.

Over the last decade, time and again, Jenny Levy stands on the sidelines unfazed when her Tar Heels are behind late in games. Emotional fans, parents and players are often shocked at how calm, cool and collected she is. After the game Levy said, “Congrats to Stony Brook on a great season, first and foremost. It didn’t surprise me that it was close, because I anticipated that based on how their defense plays and what their offense does. I’m really proud of the way my upperclassmen stepped up for us. At eight minutes, down by two [goals], I was curious to see how we’d handle it. We work on situations all the time in practice, so I knew we had it in us. We just had to buckle down and get it done.”

“I was curious to see how we’d handle it.” No mention of concern or worry. Levy was curious. This calm demeanor has helped her coach the Tar Heels to 27 straight victories. The Heels will play a very hungry Boston College team that is looking for revenge after a 21-9 loss during the regular season in Chapel Hill. The Eagles have also been to the last two National Championship games.

Hopefully, for Tar Heel fans, we do not have to live through another game like Stony Brook as it was an emotional roller coaster.

During the 27 game win streak, no team has played UNC for 52 minutes the way Stony Brook did. Stony Brook was the better team until the 8 minute mark. Then, Jamie Ortega, Katie Hoeg and the upperclassmen of the most talented team in UNC women’s lacrosse history refused to lose. Let’s hope they refuse to lose for two more games.

Charlotte North vs Emma Trenchard

This is the matchup we have all been waiting for. The most prolific single season scorer in college women’s lacrosse history versus one of the best defenders to ever wear the UNC jersey. Emma Trenchard has shut down every single high scoring opponent the Tar Heels have played. Charlotte North needs six (6) goals to break the single season record of 100 goals in a season but she will have to do it against one of the best defenses in the history of the sport.

In the previous matchup North was held to three (3) goals but that game was back in early March. In the NCAA Tournament, North has already broken the single tournament record with 23 goals. It will be a tough task for the UNC defense to keep North quiet on Friday, May 28th, 2021.

Emma Trenchard is known for her physical style of defense while also having the quickest feet on the field. Rarely, if ever, is she beat in a dodging situation. When playing one on one versus the best attackers in the country Trenchard is simply better. She has made some of the best scorers in the land non existant in games.

While North has 94 goals on the season, many of these goals came in late game situations when the outcome was already decided. Here are some examples:

  • With 25 seconds left and up by 5 North scored against USC to make the final 14-8.
  • With 1 second left and up by 9 North scored against Virginia Tech to win 21-11. This was her 10 goal game.
  • With 2:42 left and up 7 North scored against Notre Dame to win 18-12.
  • With 1:12 left and up 3 North scored against Virginia to win 16-12.

While no one can argue with playing until the final whistle, there is no reason to score goals with under a minute to go and up by more than 5 goals. This is just rubbing it into the face of the opponent and padding stats. Sportsmanship is a big part of the game of lacrosse and scoring late is not showing good sportsmanship.

If Charlotte North scores six (6) goals and breaks 100 there is a very good chance the Boston College Eagles will be headed to their third straight National Championship game. If North is held to three (3) goals or less, it is hard to see a way that Boston College will beat UNC. Jenn Medjid and Belle Smith will need career days if North doesn’t have an offensive barrage.

We could see Caroline Wakefield defending Charlotte North at certain points of the game but it will be Trenchard that could determine the outcome of this national semifinal game.

Some more research. Charlotte North versus Final Four teams:

  • UNC – 3 goals (Loss)
  • Syracuse – 5 goals (Win)
  • Syracuse – 0 goals (Loss)
  • Syracuse – 6 goals (Loss)

 

Caitlyn Wurzburger vs Belle Smith

Belle Smith was awarded Freshman of the Year in the ACC and could win Freshman of the Year nationally. Caitlyn Wurzburger was dubbed the best high school women’s lacrosse recruit in history yet had to take a back seat on the bus of a loaded UNC team. Jamie Ortega and Katie Hoag were coming off National Players of the Year awards and a number of upperclassmen were ready to showcase their skills.

Heading into the Final Four Belle Smith has 44 goals and 15 assists equaling 59 points. Caitlyn Wurzburger has 33 goals and 16 assists totaling 49 points. Both were fourth on their respective teams in terms of points. Most would agree that Belle Smith had a more complete freshman campaign but Caitlyn Wurzburger turned it on later in the season with a number of huge games.

While we will not get to see Belle Smith and Caitlyn Wurzburger defending each other, it will be interesting to see the statistical comparison when the game is over. If Wurzburger has a better game than Smith it would almost guarantee a Tar Heel victory. Belle Smith could have a career game and the Eagles could still lose as the Tar Heels have a number of athletes that could put up a multiple point game.

PREDICTION – Wurzburger will have the more prolific career over the course of her four seasons in Chapel Hill.

UNC’s Last Loss – Boston College

In a time long, long ago UNC women’s lacrosse lost a game. Charlotte North was still at Duke and a global pandemic was the last thing on people’s minds. On Friday, May 24th, 2019 the UNC Tar Heels took on the Boston College Eagles for a chance to play for the National Championship. In the regular season, the Eagles beat UNC 14-8 handing UNC their first and only loss at the new Dorrance Field on UNC’s campus. UNC is 28-1 on Dorrance Field. UNC got their revenge in the ACC Tournament that was held on Boston College’s campus (15-13). The trilogy concluded in what many have said is the best women’s lacrosse game in history.

UNC jumped out to a 6-0 lead only to find BC claw back and take a 10-9 lead early in the 2nd half. The teams traded blows going back and forth until the end of regulation when the score was 14-14. In the second overtime, Sam Apuzzo scored unassisted and vaulted the Eagles to the National Championship game for the second year in a row in which they lost to Maryland.

To say that Boston College team was stacked would be an understatement. Sam Apuzzo, Dempsey Arsenault and Kenzie Kent were all All-Americans with over 50 goals on the season. An argument could be made that it was the best offensive team in women’s college lacrosse history. Well, until 2021 when Jenny Levy built the Dream Team in Chapel Hill.

It has been 27 games since the Tar Heels suffered that defeat on May 24th, 2019. On Friday, May 28th, 2021 the Tar Heels will once again take on the Eagles in the Final Four for a chance to play for a National Championship. The Eagles are looking to go to their third straight National Championship game and the UNC Tar Heels are looking to complete a perfect season and win their third National Championship.

Will Charlotte North Achieve 100 Goals in a Season vs UNC?

On Friday, May 28th, 2021 Charlotte North will lead the Boston College Eagles in a Final Four matchup against the #1 and undefeated UNC Tar Heels. North currently has 94 goals and will attempt to break the single season record of 100 goals during the 2021 Final Four. UNC will be favored to win this game so it could be Charlotte North’s final collegiate game. Will she get to 100 for the season?

It doesn’t take a math major to recognize Charlotte North needs six (6) goals to reach 100 goals for the season. In the March 6th, 2021 matchup with the Tar Heels North had three (3) goals in a lopsided 21-9 victory for the Heels. Many would argue that Boston College was getting its sea legs at this point in the season as they had only played three games heading into the matchup.

North will likely be guarded by the best defender in the country, Emma Trenchard. There is a possibility that Catie Woodruff or Caroline Wakefield could spend time defending North but look for the consensus All-American Trenchard to spend the most time guarding North one on one for most of the afternoon.

We can expect to see North spending a lot of time with the ball in her stick. She is the type of player that gets the ball, goes straight cage and attempts to beat the goalie. She isn’t like Jamie Ortega in terms of cutting and quick shots. She is a power player that likes to play with the ball in her stick. This could work against North in the game against UNC.

In March, UNC had the defensive firepower to simply shut down the Boston College offense. While Taylor Moreno didn’t have her best game in the Elite 8 matchup against Stony Brook, one would expect her to put up a better performance in the Final Four. If Trenchard and Moreno are on their games there is no way Charlotte North scores six (6) goals against the Tar Heels.

This season, the most goals scored by an individual player against the Tar Heels was Isabella Peterson (James Madison) with four (4) in the NCAA Tournament, Olivia Carner (Duke) in the final game of the regular season and Meaghan Tyrrell (4).

North will have to best that effort by two goals in a game the Tar Heels will be prepared for. The Heels have yet to play their best game in the NCAA Tournament and have been vulnerable so it will be interesting to see if Charlotte North can expose that vulnerability and lead the Eagles to a victory.

Remember, the last team to beat the Tar Heels, 28 games ago was the Boston College Eagles in the 2019 Final Four. Some have called that the best women’s college lacrosse game ever played. Charlotte North was not on that Boston College team as she was at Duke.