UNC Women’s Lacrosse Final Four Bound After 10-6 Win Over Notre Dame

Facing a Notre Dame team that averages nearly 14 goals per game, the No. 3 UNC women’s lacrosse team locked down defensively Saturday to knock off the No. 6 Fighting Irish 10-6 at Fetzer Field in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.

With the win, the Tar Heels (18-2) advance to next weekend’s Final Four in Philadelphia–making their second straight appearance in the semifinals, and third in the last four seasons.

The duo of Marie McCool and Molly Hendrick–who were each recently named First Team All-Americans–combined for half of UNC’s scoring against Notre Dame (14-7).

Two of McCool’s three goals came during the final 30 minutes, while Hendrick scored once during each half.

Five other players chipped in a goal to the Tar Heel cause, as UNC displayed a brilliant offensive attack–passing the ball brilliantly to avoid a physical Fighting Irish team that likes to defend by poking the ball out from behind.

Molly Hendrick scored two of UNC's 10 goals on Saturday, as the Tar Heels advanced to Philadelphia for the Final Four. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Molly Hendrick scored two of UNC’s 10 goals on Saturday, as the Tar Heels advanced to Philadelphia for the Final Four. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

As good as UNC was on offense, though, it was its defense that stole the show–much like it did in their 14-8 win over Notre Dame on April 3.

After taking a 6-4 lead into the break, UNC stormed out of the locker room and suffocated the Fighting Irish attack.

The Tar Heels still continued to score as well, building a  10-5 lead over the next 27 minutes.

Notre Dame’s Kiera McMullan scored the game’s final goal with under three minutes remaining, but the outcome was no longer in doubt.

McMullan was one of just two Fighting Irish players–along with Cortney Fortunato–to find the back of the net twice.

It was a script similar to their win over Duke in the previous round for the Tar Heels. They built a slim lead after a competitive first half before, holding their opponent to just two goals in the second half.

In each game, UNC was clearly the more dominant, well-rounded, team–displaying a solid mix of offense and defense that its opponents simply haven’t been able to match.

Their reward?

A chance to make some noise at the Final Four in Philly, against the three best teams the nation has to offer.

Up Next:

The Tar Heels will play Penn State in their National Semifinal game on Friday, May 27.

Game Notes:

  • UNC has trailed for just 58 seconds in its two NCAA Tournament games so far. Notre Dame took a 2-1 lead early in the first half Saturday, but Aly Messinger scored on the next possession to tie it up for the Tar Heels.
  • It’s the ninth appearance all-time in the Final Four for UNC’s women’s lacrosse program.





Five Tar Heels Named Women’s Lax All-Americans

Five members of the UNC women’s lacrosse team have been named to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association All-America teams, which were announced Wednesday.

Molly Hendrick and Marie McCool earned first-team honors. Mallory Frysinger, Aly Messinger and Sammy Jo Tracy were named to the second-team.

UNC was tied with Maryland, the top-ranked team in the country throughout the season, with the most players named All-American.

Third-seeded UNC is preparing to host No. 6 Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon.


Women’s Lax: No. 3 UNC Sends Duke Packing, Moves to NCAA Quarters

Looking to turn its recently-earned ACC Championship into something more, the No. 3 UNC women’s lacrosse team first had to take care of an old rival in its NCAA Tournament opener.

The Tar Heels showed no signs of being intimidated however, turning up the heat in the second half of their 15-10 win over the Duke Blue Devils at Fetzer Field on Sunday.

Duke played UNC tight in the Tar Heels’ 7-6 win in the ACC Tournament back on April 29, but the Blue Devils weren’t able to hang around for all 60 minutes this time.

Not once during the game did UNC (17-2) trail the Blue Devils (11-9), as junior Molly Hendrick poured in four goals to help lead a dominant offensive showing by the home team.

Sammy Jo Tracy added three goals and two assists to the Tar Heel cause, while Aly Messinger, Carly Reed and Ela Hazar each found the back of the net twice.

Aly Messinger had two goals against Duke in the NCAA Tournament, including one during UNC's second half surge. (TheACC.com)

Aly Messinger had two goals against Duke in the NCAA Tournament, including one during UNC’s second half surge. (TheACC.com)

Each of Hazar’s goals came during a deciding run after halftime, where UNC turned its slim, 9-8 lead into a comfortable victory.

Just 10 minutes was all the Tar Heels needed in the second half to build a 12-9 advantage–which was their largest lead of the day.

The goals kept on coming over the next ten minutes, with UNC eventually going ahead 14-9 before Duke scored another.

Reed then put the finishing touches on the Tar Heels’ effort by scoring their 15th–and final–goal.

No scoring by either side occurred over the final 11 minutes.

UNC was more than happy to sit on the lead after a back-and-forth first half where it failed to break free, and surrendered hat tricks to Duke’s Grace Fallon and Kelci Smesko.

Fallon and Smesko each scored once more in the second half–finishing with four goals apiece–but the Blue Devil offense ran dry due to a lack of other options.

The Tar Heel women now join their male lacrosse counterparts in the NCAA Quarterfinals, just one win away from their fifth appearance in the Final Four in the last seven seasons.

Up Next:

Awaiting UNC is the No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The quarterfinals are scheduled to be played on May 21 and 22, with game times not yet determined.

Game Notes:

  • Hendrick’s first goal for UNC was her 50th of the season. By the end of the game her total was up to 53.
  • UNC had a slight edge over Duke in ground-ball pickups, leading 16-14 in that category.





UNC Women’s Lax No. 3 Seed in NCAA Tournament

The UNC women’s lacrosse teams is one of the top seeds in the nation heading to the NCAA Tournament. The bracket was released on Sunday night.

The women’s team is coming off of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament championships and will be the No. 3 overall seed. UNC received a bye in the first round of play. The Tar Heels will await the winner of the Duke – Loyola (Maryland) game that is scheduled to take place at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill at five o’clock on Friday. UNC will then take on the winner at one o’clock on Sunday afternoon.

UNC head coach Jenny Levy, who was recently named ACC Coach of the Year, said in a statement on Sunday that the Tar Heels will be ready for tournament play.

“This time of year is so much fun, this is what you work for all year and so we are excited and look forward to start the NCAA Tournament,” the statement from Levy read. “One of our goals each year is to earn a top four seed, and now the work begins. The competition will be tough regardless of who we play, and we look forward to hosting Duke or Loyola on Sunday at Fetzer Field.”

This is the 12th consecutive year and 18th time in the program’s 21-year history that the Tar Heels have earned a spot in the tournament field.

Tickets for this weekend’s games in Chapel Hill are available through the university’s website.


Jenny Levy Named ACC Coach Of The Year

UNC women’s lacrosse head coach Jenny Levy has been named the 2016 ACC Coach of the Year.

This is the fourth time Levy has won the award, dating back to 1997, with her most recent before this year being 2010.

Levy led the Tar Heels to a 16-2 record, currently riding a 13-game winning streak.

The 3rd-ranked Tar Heels have only lost to top-ranked Maryland and No. 2 Florida. Both losses were by one goal.

The reigning ACC Tournament champions have received an automatic qualification for the NCAA Tournament. Seeds will be announced Sunday.


UNC Women’s Lacrosse Remain No. 3, Men Fall to No. 13

A win in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament was not enough to move the North Carolina women’s lacrosse team up in the latest Inside Lacrosse rankings.

UNC still sits at No. 3, behind Maryland and Florida – which happen to be the only two teams that beat the Tar Heels during the regular season.

UNC has won 13 games in a row since the back-to-back losses to Florida and Maryland in late February, going undefeated through the conference regular season. UNC won the ACC Tournament on the strength of a pair of one-goal victories over Duke and Syracuse.

Syracuse is fifth in the new polls and the narrow loss to Carolina in the ACC semifinals actually vaulted Duke three spots in the rankings to No. 14.

Meanwhile, the UNC men’s lacrosse team fell three spots to No. 13 in the latest poll after losing to Syracuse in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

Carolina was the top seed in the tournament, after knocking off Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish were the top-ranked team in the country. Syracuse went on to defeat Duke in the conference title game.

Up next for both squads is the NCAA Tournament. The women’s team is automatically in the field after winning the conference title. The men will learn their fate on May 8 during the NCAA Tournament selection show.


UNC Women’s Lax Wins ACC Title in OT

A sudden-death overtime goal from Aly Messinger clinched the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the UNC women’s lacrosse team on Sunday.

The top-seeded Tar Heels knocked off No. 2 seed Syracuse by a 15-14 score in the championship match.

UNC has now won 13 straight contests after going through the ACC regular season slate undefeated.

Carolina needed a late 3-0 scoring run to beat rival Duke 7-6 in the ACC semifinal. Another one-goal margin against Syracuse was enough for the ACC title.

The game Sunday was a back-and-forth battle. Syracuse led by three goals in the first half before UNC tied the game up at six. The score was 7-7 at the half. Syracuse stretched its lead to three once again in the second half at 11-8. UNC trailed throughout the majority of the game but was able to tie it up at 13 with less than two minutes remaining.

Even in the limited time left in regulation, the scoring wasn’t over.

Carolina took its first lead of the second half at 14-13 with 36 seconds left in game, but Syracuse was able to answer with time winding down to force the game into overtime, where the Messinger goal secured the title for the Tar Heels.


UNC Women’s Lacrosse Beats Duke in ACC Semifinal

A 3-0 scoring run over the final 15 minutes of the game led UNC women’s lacrosse to a 7-6 win over Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Friday evening.

The top-seeded Tar Heels fell behind early as No. 4 seed Duke opened the game with three consecutive goals in the first four minutes of action. But a two-goal, one-assist performance from Marie McCool led UNC to the comeback victory.

The victory was the 12th in a row for UNC as the Tar Heels advanced to 15-2 on the season.

In addition to McCool, five Tar Heels scored single goals.

The win in the ACC semifinal sends Carolina to the title game for the sixth time in the last seven years and the 10th time overall.

UNC will take on second-seeded Syracuse in the title game at one o’clock Sunday afternoon.


Women’s Lacrosse Off To Strong Start In ACC Tournament

The Tar Heels jumped out to a 6-1 lead early and never looked back as they beat Virginia Tech 19-6 to advance to the second round of the ACC Tournament.

With four different players scoring multiple goals, UNC was able to rely on a balanced attack to overwhelm the Hokies.

Molly Hendrick led the way with four goals and two assists. Marie McCool added three goals and an assist as well.

It is now the 11th victory in a row for a UNC team that is the second ranked team in the nation according to the RPI.

They are the highest ranked team in the ACC, closely followed by Syracuse at number four.

The Tar Heels are scheduled to take on the winner of Virginia and Duke Friday for a chance to play in the ACC Championship Game.



UNC Places 6 on All-ACC Women’s Lacrosse Teams

Six North Carolina Tar Heels have been named to the 2016 All-Atlantic Coast Conference women’s lacrosse teams, the league announced Wednesday.

Of the six Carolina players honored, which was the most among any ACC school, four were named to the first-team – also more than any other school.

Every level of the Tar Heel squad was represented on the first team with two attackers, senior Sammy Jo Tracy and junior Molly Hendrick, sophomore midfielder Marie McCool and senior defender Mallory Frysinger.

Senior attacker Aly Messinger and junior goalie Caylee Waters were named second-team All-Conference.

UNC, ranked third nationally, went undefeated in conference play and will enter the ACC Tournament this weekend in Blacksburg, Virginia as the number one seed. The Tar Heels will face the No. 8 seed Virginia Tech at noon on Thursday in what is essentially a home game for the Hokies.

This is the second consecutive year UNC has won the ACC regular season title.