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.