- 82 Goals
- 28 Assists
- 110 Points
Jamie Ortega led the 2021 Tar Heels in goals and points. The second leading goal scorer was Scottie Rose Growney with 36 less goals. Katie Hoeg was second on the team with 109 points coming mostly from her 71 assists.
In the first game of the season versus Stony Brook (on 2/24/21), Jamie Ortega collided with Ally Kennedy in what appeared to be a potential season ending play around midfield. This was a precursor of the physical style of play that would be inflected on Ortega all season. After going to the bench and shaking off the cobwebs, Ortega came back out late in the second half to add an assist to the scoresheet.
One has to wonder if Ortega was out for longer if it would have been better for the Tar Heel team as it would have forced other scorers to step up. We will never know.
Throughout the first half of the regular season Ortega and the Tar Heels attack was unstoppable. Even in early season games in terrible weather versus Florida and Duke, the Heels cruised to victory. Ortega was good for a hat trick in every regular season game besides the Florida game. In nine of her 21 games Ortega had six (6) points or more. She had six (6) goals or more versus Boston College, Louisville, Virginia and Notre Dame.
In regular season matchups against the teams that went on to play in the National Championship game, Ortega had six (6) goals against Boston College and five (5) goals and three (3) assists against Syracuse.
The efficiency and domination by Ortega and the Tar Heels was a blessing and a curse. During the regular season, Ortega was almost guaranteed to score on 8 meter free position shots. At one point in the season she was shooting at almost 70%, which is unheard. Then, the Notre Dame game happened and defenses better understood how to challenge the Tar Heels. It became readily apparent when Ortega sat out the final regular season game versus Duke.
Jamie Ortega will likely go down as the best without the ball offensive player in women’s lacrosse history. It helps that Katie Hoeg was passing to her all four years but Ortega is elite catching the ball in traffic and scoring. In tight situations around the goal, Ortega seemed to always come up with the ball and get it in the back of the net. What Ortega is not is a 1v1 split dodge attacker that can take the ball to goal at will. She is not Charlotte North or Izzy Scane. She excels off ball when the defense slides to help when other attackers go to goal.
The top coaches in the country figured this out later in the season and the Tar Heels went on many scoring droughts. They only scored 9 goals against Syracuse in the ACC Championship game and struggled to get the ball in the back of the net versus James Madison and Stony Brook. In the national semifinal game versus Boston College, Ortega had one goal and two (2) assists that all came in the first six minutes of the game. After that, she had zero offensive production.
As goes Ortega, so go the Heels. When Ortega had a subpar game or sat out a game (vs Duke), the Tar Heels struggled on the offensive end. We are not putting the blame on Ortega for the Boston College loss. Other players needed to step up and they simply did not. Once again, it goes back to the UNC offense taking advantage when a defender slides to help. When defenders didn’t slide, the UNC offense could not beat goalie Rachel Hall.
Jamie Ortega finished her senior season with 265 goals and 353 points. She will demolish the ACC record for goals and will make her assault on the NCAA record of 341 during her final season in 2021. She will need 77 goals to break the record and has recorded 70, 81 and 82 in her three full seasons. These were seasons with Katie Hoeg so it will be interesting to see if she is as effective without the ACC’s all time assist leader on the field with her.
Much of Ortega’s success in 2022 will likely depend on the development of Caitlyn Wurzburger. If Wurzburger can replace Hoeg at X and become an even bigger threat to score, Ortega will score 80+ goals once again. If other Tar Heels do not emerge as goal scorers, teams will implement the same face guarding defense that Boston College implemented and dare other Tar Heels to beat them.
In Jamie Ortega’s first game wearing #3, the Tar Heels lost to James Madison. She scored one goal in that game in a foreshadowing of great things to come. In the second game of her career she scored unassisted in the first minute against High Point and had a hat trick in the first half. Hundreds of goals and four years later, UNC’s best attacker ever will have a chance to make history in 2022.
No matter what happens in Ortega’s 5th year senior season, she will go down as the greatest goal scorer in UNC history. The only chapter of this story that has yet to be written is can Jamie Ortega win a national championship?
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