UNC Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Start Season with Wins

UNC men’s and women’s lacrosse opened the 2016 season with wins over the weekend.

The second-ranked women’s team improved to 17-4 in season openers with an 11-7 victory over James Madison on Saturday afternoon.

Molly Hendrick scored four goals to pace the Tar Heels.

Junior Caylee Waters made seven saves in goal for UNC.

Sydney Holman opened the scoring with her lone goal of the game just 1:44 into the action.

Carolina held an 11-4 lead before three consecutive late goals for the Dukes.

UNC will be back in action at six o’clock Friday evening at High Point.

Meanwhile, the eighth-ranked men’s lacrosse team opened its season by doubling up visiting Michigan 20-10 on Saturday.

The Tar Heels took a 10-6 lead into the half before exploding for seven consecutive goals to open the second half.

Sophomore Chris Cloutier scored five goals on seven shots in his first career start.

Michigan scored an early goal for a 1-0 lead before Carolina scored the next five. Michigan kept it close at 5-3 but the Tar Heels never gave up the lead.

UNC returns to Fetzer Field at one o’clock Saturday afternoon to host Furman.


UNC Women’s Lacrosse Ranked No. 2 Starting 2016

UNC women’s lacrosse will begin its 2016 season ranked second in the country.

The Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association announced its preseason poll on Monday.

The Tar Heels finished the 2015 season ranked second after losing to Maryland in the national championship game. The Terrapins will start the new season at the top of the poll.

Four other members of the Atlantic Coast Conference are ranked in the preseason top 10; Syracuse checks in at number three, followed by Duke at number four, Boston College will start the season ninth and Virginia rounds out the top 10. ACC members Notre Dame (11) and Louisville (15) are also ranked.

Nine members of the Tar Heel squad were named to the preseason All-America team.

The 2016 season begins on the road as Carolina will visit James Madison on Saturday.


UNC Women’s Lacrosse Places 6 on US National Team

Six current and former UNC women’s lacrosse players have been named to the 24 player roster representing the U.S. Women’s National Team on a tour to England later this summer.

The six Tar Heels on the roster represents more than any other university in the country.

Four of the national team’s seven defenders come from Chapel Hill, 2010 graduates Kristen Carr and Jen Russell, 2014 alumna Sloan Serpe and Courtney Waite, who is a 2015 graduate.

Laura Zimmerman, class of 2012, and current Tar Heel goalie Caylee Waters, class of 2017, are also on the roster.

Waters is one of four active college players on the roster and the youngest to make the cut.

The U.S. team will travel to Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, England, from June 28 to July 4 and is expected to play games against England, Scotland and Wales. Surrey Sports Park is the location for the 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup.


Tar Heel Lax NCAA Tourney Quests Begin

The UNC men’s lacrosse team, 12-3 overall, has earned the No. 3 seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and will host Patriot League champion Colgate at Fetzer Field Sunday, May 10 at 5:15 p.m.

Carolina’s No. 3 seed is its highest since it landed the top spot in the 1993 NCAA Tournament, the last time the Tar Heels advanced to NCAA Championship weekend.

Sunday’s contest will mark the fourth all-time meeting between Carolina and Colgate. The Tar Heels won all three previous meetings.

As for the women, head coach Jenny Levy’s 12-3 Tar Heels snagged the No. 2 overall seed after finishing runner-up in the ACC Tournament.

Carolina will begin its quest for a national championship at Fetzer Field Sunday against the winner of Friday’s Stanford-Florida first round encounter.

Both UNC squads will hope to still be competing on the final championship weekend. This year’s national semifinals and finals, in both the men’s and women’s fields, will be held in Pennsylvania.

The women will play at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, with the semifinals on May 22 and the finals on May 24.

The men’s semis are set for May 23 with the final on May 25 at Lincoln Financial Field.


Orange Upset Tar Heels For ACC Title

The second-ranked North Carolina women’s lacrosse team couldn’t recover from a slow start Sunday afternoon in the ACC Championship game. The Syracuse Orange downed the Tar Heels, 9-8, in overtime sudden victory to claim their first league title in just their second year in the ACC.

With the loss, the Tar Heels dropped to 15-3 overall and 6-2 in the ACC. With the win, the Orange improved to 14-6 on the season with a 4-4 mark in the league.

The Orange players were dancing on the sidelines early and often in this one. UNC head coach Jenny Levy’s Tar Heels fell behind 3-0 with 17:17 to go in the first half.

And although UNC bravely fought back to tie the game from difficult deficits time and time again, sloppy turnovers and missed opportunities ultimately doomed Carolina.

But the Orange played well, taking full advantage of UNC miscues. It was Kayla Treanor’s fifth goal of the tournament that proved to be the decider. The thrilling overtime score sealed the conference title for Syracuse.

The loss snapped Carolina’s seven-game winning streak. Next up for the Tar Heels after an exam break, comes the NCAA Tournament. First round action begins May 8.


ACC Tournament Season In Full Swing

It’s the spring ACC Tournament season. And many UNC programs have high hopes on conference title trophies and banners.

The No. 2 UNC women’s lacrosse team got the postseason off to a flying start Thursday with an 18-12 victory over Virginia Tech at Klockner Stadium in league quarterfinal action.

The top-seeded Tar Heels held a tenuous 8-7 lead at halftime but scored 10 goals on 14 second-half shots to pull away after the break.

UNC won its sixth game in a row and improved to 7-0 in the ACC quarterfinals all-time while maintaining their perfect mark against Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels have advanced to Friday’s 1 p.m. semifinal against Notre Dame.

The No. 2 UNC men’s lacrosse team gets its ACC Tournament campaign underway Friday night at 8 p.m. at PPL Park in Pennsylvania. Carolina will face No. 4 Syracuse in a rematch of UNC’s thrilling regular season win.

UNC head coach Joe Breschi’s Tar Heels will be searching for their 13th ACC title.

The No. 1 UNC women’s tennis team, meanwhile, is looking to stay undefeated as its get its ACC Tourney matches started down the road at the Cary Tennis Park Friday afternoon.


Tar Heels Round Out Exciting Regular Season

A busy Tar Heel sports weekend secured a couple exhilarating ACC titles, produced heartbreak on the lacrosse field and saw history made on the Chestnut Hill tennis courts.

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Indeed, it was a wild few days for Carolina athletics starting with one for the record books Friday at Boston College.

Brian Kalbas has all the pieces to contend for a national championship (UNC Athletics)

Brian Kalbas has all the pieces to contend for a national championship (UNC Athletics)

The No. 1 Tar Heel women’s tennis team put the finishing touches on an undefeated regular season by beating the Eagles, 5-2, and in the process, became the first ACC school in history to make it through the treacherous league slate unscathed.

Despite Jamie Loeb’s shocking three-set upset at No. 1 singles, Carolina showed off its depth by fighting past the pesky Eagles with commanding victories at No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 singles.

UNC head coach Brian Kalbas says the Tar Heels have been on a mission this season.

“This is the kind of team I don’t think would benefit from a loss going into the postseason. I really think this team benefits from winning and getting that motivation that we could do something special,” Coach Kalbas says.

UNC will now turn its attention to Cary Tennis Center for the start of the ACC Tournament this weekend. The Tar Heels will be the No. 1 seed and heavy favorites to take the title for the fifth time in seven years.

But the sweetness of victory is often born out of the bitterness of defeat. The Carolina men’s lacrosse team suffered the latter Saturday afternoon.

The Tar Heels surrendered three goals in the final 1:15 of the contest to fall short in heartbreaking fashion.

What’s worse, the 15-14 defeat to No. 1 Notre Dame in South Bend handed the ACC regular season championship to the Fighting Irish.

The second-ranked Tar Heels have some time to regroup before meeting Syracuse Friday in the ACC Tournament semifinals at PPL Park at 8 p.m. in Chester, PA.

Their female counterparts, however, were not to be denied the title of champions.

Sammy Jo Tracy gets all fired up (UNC Athletics)

Sammy Jo Tracy gets all fired up (UNC Athletics)

Friday night at Duke’s Koskinen Stadium, the No. 2 UNC women’s lacrosse team downed its hated rival, 12-6, to claim the ACC regular season title for the sixth time and improve to 13-2 overall, 6-1 in league action.

Sammy Jo Tracy wasn’t the only Tar Heel to record a hat trick against the Blue Devils. Aly Messinger joined her teammate in that accomplishment.

Caylee Waters started the game in goal for Carolina and picked up the win thanks to three saves and only giving up four scores.

Head coach Jenny Levy’s Tar Heels open up their ACC Tournament campaign Thursday as the top seeds.

With the regular season now in the books for most spring teams in Chapel Hill, the excitement and promise of the postseason awaits – where dreams become reality.

And these successful Tar Heel players and coaches will be dreaming of hardware – ACC and national championship trophies.


Tar Heel Tennis, Lacrosse Blossoming This Spring

Although surrounded by less hype and fanfare than their more famous basketball and football counterparts, UNC’s spring sports teams excel at the highest level year in and year out. 2015 is shaping up to be no exception.

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It’s the rackets and sticks that have been making the loudest noise in Chapel Hill these days.

Out on the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center courts, the Tar Heels are serving up a storm that is led by the ladies.

UNC Women's Tennis Star Jamie Loeb (UNC Athletics)

UNC women’s tennis star Jamie Loeb (UNC Athletics)

The No. 2 UNC women are fresh off an indoor national championship title and are now looking to sweep through the outdoor season. The Tar Heels are unblemished to date, sporting a 23-0 record overall and an 11-0 mark in ACC action.

Led by top 20 national singles players in sophomore duo Jamie Loeb and Hayley Carter, head coach Brian Kalbas’ players are an imposing force to look at across the net.

Coach Kalbas recently eclipsed the 500-win mark in his career, but he credits the talent on the court for achieving that milestone.

“When you win that many matches, it’s because you have good players. They play well and make you look good,” Coach Kalbas says.

Loeb won an individual national title in her maiden season at Carolina, but has been met with more resistance in her second season. Tennis can be a streaky sport.

Coach Kalbas breaks down the strategy in one of Loeb’s most recent tough battles.

“Anytime the girl hit a really good shot, Jamie would cut it off and force her to hit another great shot. The girl wasn’t coming to the net very much. If Jamie would handle her pace, push her back and get on the offense herself, which she started to do in the second and third set – it was really impressive,” Coach Kalbas says.

As for the Tar Heel men, they’ve gone on more of an up-and-down ride this spring. Saddled with a 16-8 record and 5-3 mark in league play, UNC’s No. 2 singles player Ronnie Schneider says the key to postseason success will be getting all the Tar Heels back fully healthy.

Ronnie Schneider strikes a backhand (UNC Athletics)

Ronnie Schneider strikes a backhand (UNC Athletics)

“Our health is probably the most important thing for our team right now. When we put guys on the court, they’re playing well. It’s just that we’ve got to get our top six guys healthy. If we can get healthy now, by the time those two tournaments [ACC and NCAA] hit, we’ll be playing our best tennis,” Schneider says.

Out on the lacrosse field, head coach Joe Breschi has to be pleased with his men’s team thus far. The Tar Heels check in at No. 4 in the national polls and are coming off an impressive road win over No. 6 Virginia in Charlottesville.

Senior Jimmy Bitter, who scored two goals in the win over the Wahoos, says the composure of goalkeeper Kieran Burke gives UNC added confidence.

The men's lacrosse team will hope to repeat 2013's ACC title (Courtesy GoHeels.com)

The men’s lacrosse team will hope to repeat 2013’s ACC title (Courtesy GoHeels.com)

“Kieran Burke is an amazing goalie. No matter what point in the game it is, he’s always level-headed,” Bitter says.

Not to be outdone, the Tar Heel women’s lacrosse team is ranked No. 2 nationally and in search of a national title of their own this spring.

In UNC’s most recent win over fellow top-ten member Louisville, Molly Hendrick netted a career-high five goals to spur on the 18-5 rout of the Cardinals.

So the trees and bushes aren’t the only thing blossoming around Chapel Hill right now – so too are the national championship aspirations of Tar Heels on the tennis courts and lacrosse fields.


Overshadowed Spring Sports Share Same Lofty Goals

All eyes are generally fixed on the basketball hardwood this time of year in Chapel Hill, but a litany of other top-notch UNC sports programs are gearing up for their own chances at ACC and national glory.

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The No. 4 UNC women’s tennis team started off its dual match campaign with a pair of victories over in-state foes.

Last weekend, the Tar Heels decisively served past both Elon and Appalachian State, dropping only one match in the process.

The Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center will play host to one of the nation’s top players. Sophomore Jamie Loeb, currently ranked No. 8 in the nation in singles, spent much of her freshman year sitting atop the rankings after a superb 53-4 season individually.

UNC winning ITA Indoor National Title. (UNC Athletics)

UNC winning ITA Indoor National Title. (UNC Athletics)

After falling just short of a national championship in Athens, Georgia a year ago, the Tar Heels, armed with a deep and talented lineup that also includes No. 22 Caroline Price and No. 31 Hayley Carter, could go one better in 2015.

Head coach Brian Kalbas’ Carolina squad will return to action on Jan. 24-25 to face Minnesota and Boston College or LSU.

As for their male counterparts, they’ll be aiming for big things this year as well. The Tar Heel men start off their campaign in the No. 6 position nationally in the preseason rankings released just last week.

UNC returns five starters from last year’s record-breaking team that reached the NCAA quarterfinals. In addition, Carolina also welcomes back senior Esben Hess-Oleson, who sat out last season with an injury, but made significant contributions in previous years.

The Tar Heels return to the courts to open their regular season with home doubleheaders on Jan. 16 and 19.

On the lacrosse field, UNC will yet again be among the nation’s best.

The women’s team begins the year No. 2 in the preseason polls and leads a loaded field in the ACC with five league schools represented in the top seven of the rankings.

With a national championship the goal, it appears the Tar Heels may actually have the talent to do it, with ten UNC women earning spots on the 2015 Face-Off Yearbook preseason All-America team, published by Inside Lacrosse.

UNC Men's Lacrosse claimed the 2013 ACC Championship. (UNC Athletics)

UNC Men’s Lacrosse claimed the 2013 ACC Championship. (UNC Athletics)

As for the men’s lacrosse squad, they check in a few notches lower than the women, but not by much. The Tar Heels were voted as the sixth-best team in the NCAA by the nation’s coaches.

But Carolina will get its chance to prove if it should be placed higher with games against all of the top five-ranked teams looming on its schedule.

Coach Joe Breschi’s team opens its season Feb. 7 at home against Furman.

Although overshadowed by their more famous classmates on the basketball court, at a place like UNC, every sports program seemingly shares the same collective goal – to win a national championship.


Women’s LAX Looks Ahead to Championship Year

North Carolina women’s lacrosse is gearing up for another successful season with an exhibition game against Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, M.D. Saturday.

Carolina finished its season with a heartbreaking 10-9 loss to then sixth-seeded Virginia Cavaliers in the quarterfinals of the NCAA National Tournament.

The Heels are looking forward to their 2014-2015 campaign, as the team boasts the 4th best signing class which includes eight freshmen and a transfer sophomore.

“We are looking forward to the start of our fall practice,” says head coach Jenny Levy. “We have a lot of talent and experience returning and new players who I feel will be able to contribute right away. The energy, focus and competitiveness of our practice environment will be top-notch. The way our season ended last year stung and I know we will all use it as a motivating factor all year.”

The newcomers will join a cast of nine returning starters who hope to carry North Carolina to its second NCAA championship in the last three seasons in 2015.