If the 2022 UNC women’s lacrosse team need any more motivation, here it is:
No brainer. Let’s run it back @BCwlax
— Charlotte North (@charlotteocho8) June 7, 2021
For the first 10 minutes of the Final Four matchup between UNC and Boston College it looked very similar to the matchup on March 6th in which the Tar Heels dominated the Eagles 21-9. Then, around the 20 minute mark of the first half something happened. The BC defenders not matchup up against #3 in white lightened up the pressure. Instead of chasing UNC attackers all over the offensive zone, they simply placed their heels outside the 8 meter and let UNC make mistakes.
First the first 10 minutes Jamie Ortega looked like the best player in lacrosse. She had a goal and two assists and was playing with more energy than she has all season. She wasn’t going to let her teammate Katie Hoeg leave Chapel Hill without a National Title. A warning sign of things to come was Ortega not taking a free position 8 meter to goal after a yellow card on Boston College. The Phoebe Day yellow card came at 26:14. The game was tied but UNC was dominating the draw circle and possession.
In almost every game this year, Ortega has been unstoppable from the 8 meter in a free position shot situation. It isn’t even a free throw for her, it is more like a lay up. While Ortega did assist Katie Hoeg and put the Tar Heels up 2-1 during that yellow card, why did Ortega not go to goal?
With 18:18 left in the first half Scottie Rose Growney got on the scoreboard and put the Tar Heels up 4-2. After that, we didn’t hear from her for the rest of the game. After going up 4-2, the Tar Heels struggled to get quality shots. Boston College allowed freshman Sydney Scales to face guard Ortega but the rest of the defense eased the pressure. They dared anyone not named Ortega to beat them. Time and again Ally Mastroianni, Scottie Rose Growney, Tayler Warehime and Kerrigan Miller went to goal and BC did not slide. In the previous matchup, BC slid defenders into driver UNC attackers and left Ortega and others open to cut.
Boston College learned from the Duke game that if Jamie Ortega is not scoring for UNC, they are beatable. In fact, they aren’t just beatable, they are an average team. By the end of the first half, BC goalie Rachel Hall looked like the Tewaaraton Award finalist, not Taylor Moreno. UNC had 18 shots in the first half and only scored 5 goals. Down 8-5 at halftime most would expect UNC to come out firing in the 2nd half. The opposite happened. Boston College extended their lead to 11-6 with around 15 minutes to go in the game.
The Boston College defense seemed unbeatable. Kerrigan Miller had two shots right in front of the goal and missed. Tayler Warehime had two costly turnovers. Scottie Rose Growney was shooting shots that weren’t even close to the goal. The perfect storm was Jamie Ortega could do nothing to get free from Sydney Scales.
Even though BC didn’t score for the final 15 minutes of the game, they were able to hold off UNC and advance to the National Championship game with an 11-10 victory.
There were many signs of this UNC women’s lacrosse team being vulnerable during the second half of the season. While they defeated both teams in the National Championship with a running clock, they were not the same team after the Notre Dame game. Against Notre Dame Bridget Deehan had one of the best goalie performances of the year. What all other elite women’s lacrosse coaches saw that day was UNC was an average team without Ortega. Ortega scored five goals that game and basically willed UNC to the victory. Four of her five goals were unassisted.
Flash forward to the National Semifinal. Acacia Walker-Weinstein had been to the prior three National Championship games. She won many National Championships as an assistant coach at Northwestern. She won National Championships at Maryland as a player. She knows lacrosse and knows how to coach and make adjustments. She basically told her team to guard their woman and not slide even if they were beat. The rest was up to goalie Rachel Hall.
Rachel Hall was great. Bridget Deehan was great back in March. What we realized is UNC is not great when it comes to attackers not named Ortega shooting. 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.
One has to wonder if this is the recipe to beat UNC in the future. UNC’s offense is built on passing and moving the ball. They do not have an offensive player that can take the ball one v one and score at will. There is not a Charlotte North on the team. During their championship runs of 2013 and 2016 there were players like Kara Cannizzaro, Sammy Jo Tracy, Molly Hendrick and Marie McCool that could take a defender 1v1 and score. While Jamie Ortega will go down as the greatest scorer in UNC history (possibly NCAA history) she does not excel going one v one. She is a cutter and a slasher that catches anything near her stick and puts it in the goal before the defense has a chance to react.
Her game is very similar to former UNC basketball great Antawn Jamison. Jamison was great when he could react quick and not let the defense get set up. When the defense got set up, he was much less effective. The same is true with Ortega. She may be one of the best transition players to ever play the game. She is definitely one of the top 3 cutters to ever wear a women’s lacrosse jersey. She is not the type of player to get the ball and go to the goal and score unassisted.
UNC’s transition offense was non existent during the Final Four game versus BC. Much of this was because Taylor Moreno was not making saves and starting the transition. The UNC defense played their asses off but things just did not go as planned.
The most depressing part of this loss was the fact UNC attackers were lazy throughout much of the game. There was a ball sitting on the ground in the midfield and Scottie Rose Growney allowed a BC defender to go around and get it. There were numerous times in which Kayla Wood was running around in the UNC attack zone looking for someone to pass it to and no UNC attackers would get the ball.
UNC’s defense was great the entire season. They did everything asked of them. What became very apparent versus Boston College was UNC’s attack became Ortega, Hoeg and Wurzburger at the end of the season. If defenses didn’t slide off Ally Mastroianni, Scottie Rose Growney, Tayler Warehime and Kerrigan Miller these UNC attackers were going to shoot and often miss. Or shoot right into the goalie’s body. Rachel Hall looked like a stone wall but most of the UNC shots were right into her body.
It was a great season and UNC showed glimpses of being the best women’s college lacrosse team ever. The middle 40 minutes versus Syracuse, the second half versus BC and the first half of Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament all come to mind. Unfortunately, the lack of firepower from the UNC attack proved that this team wasn’t even the best team of 2021, no less of all time.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Congratulations to the 2017 Maryland Terrapins who defeated Boston College to win the women’s lacrosse national championship. The Terps beat UNC 13-10 in College Park on Saturday, February 25th, 2017. Many expected to see a rematch of the Tar Heels and Terps in the championship game but UNC was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Navy in the Elite 8.
In a game that almost everyone predicted UNC to win, us included, Navy shocked the women’s lacrosse world by dominating the last 10 minutes of the Elite 8 game to take out the defending champs on their home field. It was the last game in the history of the current Fetzer Field and it will forever be remembered as one of the largest upsets in UNC women’s lacrosse history.
For those that are unaware, the current Navy women’s lacrosse coach, Cindy Timchal, was at the University of Maryland when they won 8 national championships; 7 consecutive. They also reeled off 55 straight wins which is a record that will likely stand for a very long time. Coach Timchal left Maryland in 2007 to take of the Navy job.