Eight Tar Heels Named to 2017 U.S. Women’s Lacrosse Roster

If two national championships in the last four years wasn’t enough to show the dominance of the UNC women’s lacrosse program, then Monday’s news should be.

Of the 36 players selected to play on the United States National Team in the 2017 World Cup, eight are either current or former Tar Heels.

For those who struggle with math, that’s nearly a quarter of the entire roster.

Maryland–which has also won two of the last four titles–was second with six players on the team. Next on the list was Syracuse with five.

“We’re always surprised at who the 36 are, because it’s not always the 36 we thought going into the tryout,” Team USA coach Ricky Fried said. “That speaks volumes to the process and to the coaches and evaluators involved. It’s a process that creates great value.”

Kristen Carr graduated UNC in 2010, and is now attempting to win her second women's lacrosse World Cup. (UNC Athletics)

Kristen Carr graduated UNC in 2010, and is now attempting to win her second women’s lacrosse World Cup. (UNC Athletics)

Midfielders Maggie Bill (UNC ’17) and Marie McCool (’18) join goalie Caylee Waters (’17) as three of the team’s nine players who are still currently in college.

Leading the old guard is a group that consists of midfielder Laura Zimmerman (’12) and four defenders–Kristen Carr (’10), Jen Russell (’10), Sloane Serpe (’14) and Courtney Waite (’15).

The next step for each of these players is to begin preparation for next year’s World Cup, which will be held in Guildford, England.

Unfortunately, only half of the 36 women chosen will make the final 18-player roster that will play in the event. They’ll also be under pressure to defend the title won by the U.S. at the last World Cup back in 2013.

With eight of the players from the 2013 team returning for another shot, Coach Fried likes the mix of talent he’s seen so far throughout training.

“The athleticism and skill displayed was, as always, at a very high level,” Fried said.

“What we’re more excited about is the ability of our returning players to make our younger players feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves by being here; that it’s more meaningful to be a part of a program than just part of a World Cup team.”


Jenny Levy Honored as National Coach of the Year

In the world of college athletics, winning championships and awards typically leads to two things.

More championships. More awards.

Longtime UNC women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy received another reminder of that fact on Tuesday, when she was named the Division I National Coach of the Year by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association.

The honor comes just over a month after Levy led the Tar Heels to their second national championship in four years.

Since building the program from scratch 21 years ago, she has risen to fourth on the NCAA’s all-time coaching wins list, while taking the Tar Heels to nine Final Fours.

However, it was just second time Levy has won the Coach of the Year award.

As you might have guessed, she also took it home in 2013–following UNC’s only other national title run.

This past season, though, will be widely regarded as the best in the program’s history.

The Tar Heels went 20-2 in 2016, finished the ACC season 7-0, and closed the season on a 17-game winning streak.

In the NCAA Championship Game, Levy’s squad proved its greatness with a demolition of No. 1 Maryland–which was undefeated and on a 26-game streak that extended back to 2015.

She’ll formally pick up her award Nov. 17 at Disney’s Coronado Resorts in Florida–during the IWLCA Annual Meetings.

Also being honored that day are Florida Southern College’s Kara Reber (Division II national champion) and Middlebury College’s Kate Livesay (Division III national champion).


U.S. Lacrosse Selects 12 Tar Heels For Women’s National Team Tryouts

What more can the UNC women’s lacrosse program do to assert its dominance?

The Tar Heels–fresh off an NCAA Championship win over Maryland–have won two of the last four national titles, while appearing in three finals over that stretch.

Now their head coach, Jenny Levy, can say she coached 12 of the 105 players–11.4 percent of them to be exact–selected to try out for the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Carly Reed (Class of 2017) was the lone UNC attacker to make the cut–coming off a season where she scored 29 goals and dished out eight assists.

Goalie Caylee Waters (’17)–the 2016 Division I Co-Goalie of the Year along with teammate Megan Ward–was also the only Tar Heel at her position to be chosen.

The midfielders selected include: Maggie Bill (’18), Kara Cannizzaro (’13), Ela Hazar (’18), Marie McCool  (’18) and Laura Zimmerman (’12).

Five Tar Heel defenders will also get the chance to make their mark, a list consisting of: Maggie Auslander (’17), Kristen Carr (’10), Jen Russell (’10), Sloane Serpe (’14) and Courtney Waite (’15).

Each of the current and former UNC standouts will participate in tryouts from Aug 5-7 at the national team training center at U.S. Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, MD.

Just 36 of the 105 women will earn an opportunity to train with Team USA in its build-up for the 2017 World Cup in Guildford, England.

That group will then be cut in half to just 18 players who will make the final roster for the event.

The U.S. will be going for its third straight world title, and eighth overall.



12 Tar Heels Named Academic All-ACC

UNC is very well represented on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic lacrosse teams.

Twelve players – six from each the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams – were named to the academic all-conference teams on Monday.

Juniors Stephen Kelly, Austin Pifani, Shane Simpson and Michael Tagliaferri joined seniors Patrick Kelly and Jake Matthai on the team.

Meanwhile, Kelly Devlin, Mallory Frysinger, Marie McCool, Aly Messinger, Megan Ward and Caylee Waters were named academic all-conference for the women’s side.

Both the men’s and women’s UNC lacrosse teams won the national championships over Maryland earlier this year.


UNC’s Jenny Levy Named National Coach of the Year

UNC women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy has been named the 2016 National Coach of the Year by Lacrosse Magazine.

Levy coached the Tar Heels to a national championship victory on top-seeded Maryland in May.

Senior defender Mallory Frysinger, sophomore midfielder Marie McCool and senior attacker Aly Messinger were honored individually as All-Americans.

UNC won both the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA Tournaments for the second time and finished the season on a school-record 17-game winning streak.

This is the second time Levy has been named Coach of the Year; the first time was after Carolina won the national title in 2013.

Levy was named ACC Coach of the Year this season.


Healthy Competition Motivated UNC’s Lacrosse Teams to National Titles

Success breeds success.

Within the UNC athletic program, it’s a motto that promotes good-spirited competition between each of the different Tar Heel teams.

Nowhere was it more evident than in Philadelphia this past weekend, when the school’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams each defeated Maryland on back-to-back days to win national championships.

Following the women’s title victory on Sunday, head coach Jenny Levy gave her team the option to fly home that night or stay an extra day to watch the men’s championship game on Monday. Even though staying meant having to ride home on a bus, they all agreed to do it.

Joe Breschi dabs after his team had just ended its 25-year national championship drought. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Joe Breschi dabs after his team had just ended its 25-year national championship drought. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Because both teams were in the same hotel, it also gave them a night to celebrate together.

“There was an atrium in the hotel, and I could hear all this craziness downstairs,” Levy said in a joint press conference with men’s head coach Joe Breschi on Tuesday. “And I’m like ‘Aww, our parents are going nuts.’

“Then I look down and I’m like, ‘Oh my god it’s the men’s team. That’s awesome,’” she continued. “I just thought it was a really cool moment for the players in both programs.”

The men’s team took care of business the next morning, winning an overtime thriller that ended a 25-year title drought.

Not long after Chris Cloutier’s game-winning goal found the back of the net, Levy’s team wanted to share the moment with head coach Joe Breschi’s squad on the field.

Security wouldn’t allow it, however, so the men simply marched over to the stands and climbed up there.

After getting their trophy on the field, the Tar Heel men's lacrosse team took to the crowd to celebrate. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

After getting their trophy on the field, the Tar Heel men’s lacrosse team took to the crowd to celebrate. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

“It’s almost like—in a fun way—it was the kids competing against each other,” Breschi said. “Not against each other, but with each other.

“To be like ‘We’re gonna get you, we’re gonna get you,’ and then to beat the same team is pretty magical,” he added. “And to celebrate with Jenny’s husband, Dan, and the ’91 team on the same day–it’s just so special for all of us.”

Plenty of other Tar Heel coaches showed their support for the lacrosse teams over the weekend as well.

Levy said she got advice on Saturday for her championship pregame speech from legendary women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance.

Head football coach Larry Fedora was also in Philadelphia, while Roy Williams—still recovering from knee surgery–offered good luck through text messages.

“It’s a healthy competitiveness between our athletes,” Levy said. “But they like to see each other achieve. And they want people to win national championships here.

That comes from the top down, all of the coaches respecting the work that each of us does with our programs.”

Joe Breschi (left) and Larry Fedora (right) spoke prior to Monday's championship game against Maryland. A number of UNC coaches voiced their support for both the men's and women's lacrosse teams over the weekend. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Joe Breschi (left) and Larry Fedora (right) spoke prior to Monday’s championship game against Maryland. A number of UNC coaches voiced their support for both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams over the weekend. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

As much as the competition within the university helps motivate the different teams, nothing motivates quite like a familiar foe. An ACC mainstay before leaving for the Big Ten in 2014, Maryland has always been a difficult opponent for the Tar Heels–no matter the sport.

But the lacrosse rivalry is at another level.

After eliminating both UNC’s men and women in the 2015 NCAA Tournaments, the Terrapins were served a cold dish of revenge this year.

Unable to contain her excitement, Levy shared her secret recipe.

“It was nice to beat the Terps twice,” she said. “And put a little salt on the red state”

Breschi, on the other hand, just wants to soak it all in after the incredibly emotional ride he and his team have had this season.

He took a deep breath, then said with emphasis: “I am gonna savor this moment for a looooooooooooooooong time.”


Mission Accomplished: UNC Women’s Lacrosse Defeats Maryland for National Championship

Facing a Maryland squad that had won back-to-back national championships–and won their last 26 games–it would have been easy for the No. 3 UNC women’s lacrosse team to be a bit intimidated.

The Tar Heels were never fazed, though, as they handily defeated the No. 1 Terrapins 13-7 in Sunday’s NCAA Championship Game at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania.

It’s the second national title in program history for UNC (21-2), which clinched the rubber match in the third championship meeting between the two schools over the last four years.

Senior attacker Aly Messinger tallied two goals and a career-high four assists to help the Tar Heels hand Maryland (22-1) its first loss since May 1, 2015.

Aly Messinger was an offensive force against the Terrapins, dishing out a career-high four assists in the first half. Her passing helped UNC go on a 6-0 run early in the game. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Aly Messinger was an offensive force against the Terrapins, dishing out a career-high four assists in the first half. Her passing helped UNC go on a 6-0 run early in the game. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Molly Hendrick added three goals for UNC, while Sammy Jo Tracy, Ela Hazar and Carly Reed each chipped in two.

The Tar Heels’ most important player, however, was senior goalie Megan Ward, who recovered in the best possible way after being benched in the first half of the team’s semifinal win over Penn State–a game where she allowed five goals on five shots.

Against the Terrapins, Ward was lights out. She saved a career-high 14 shots while limiting Maryland, which scores an average of nearly 16 times per game, to a season-low seven goals.

As impressive as she played, it wasn’t just Ward that was incredible defensively for the Tar Heels.

The UNC defenders combined to hold Maryland midfielder Taylor Cummings–a two-time Tewaaraton Award winner as the nation’s best player–to just a single goal.

The Tar Heels were simply too much for their opponents in every aspect of the game.

Despite scoring first, the Terrapins fell victim to the precise passing of Messinger and the Tar Heel offense the rest of the way.

Looking like former NBA point guard Steve Nash in his prime–dishing the ball all over the yard– Messinger had each of her four assists during a 20-minute first-half stretch. In that time, UNC scored the next six goals to go ahead 6-1.

Senior goalie Megan Ward made a career-high 14 saves in the National Championship Game. This after being benched in UNC's semifinal win over Penn State. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Senior goalie Megan Ward made a career-high 14 saves in the National Championship Game. This after being benched in UNC’s semifinal win over Penn State. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

For a brief period, it appeared as if Maryland had enough fight left to claw back from the biggest deficit it had faced all season.

The Terrapins unleashed a quick flurry of goals before halftime to make it 6-4, then later pulled within 7-6 early in the second half.

But the Tar Heels snuffed out the comeback with goals from Reed and Messinger within 15 seconds of one another–a sequence which kick-started a late 5-0 run that put the finishing touches on the finest season in the program’s history.

Each team would score only once more during the final 10 minutes, as the Tar Heels–just like in Friday’s win–were content to play stall-ball until the clock hit triple zeroes.

The result this time, though, was a national championship.

Game Notes:

  • UNC’s senior class ended their freshman year with a 2013 national title win over Maryland, and closed their careers in the same fashion.
  • Tar Heel senior midfielder Kelly Devlin was ejected from the game in the first half for picking up two yellow cards.
  • Maryland defeated UNC 8-7 in the regular season on Feb. 27–which is still the Tar Heels’ last loss. The Terrapins also hold a 9-8 victory over UNC in last year’s NCAA Final.




Carly Reed Lifts UNC Women’s Lax Past Penn State, Into Title Game

Just over a minute into Friday’s NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Semifinal between No. 3 UNC and the Penn State Nittany Lions, Tar Heel midfielder Carly Reed received a pass from teammate Aly Messinger and put it in the back of the net.

That was simply foreshadowing for what was to come.

The junior from Alexandria, Virginia ended up scoring five times, as UNC survived a late Penn State rally to win by a score of 12-11–lifting head coach Jenny Levy’s Tar Heels to their second straight National Championship Game appearance, and third in the last four seasons.

Aly Messinger scored two goals and had two assists in UNC's win over Penn State. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Aly Messinger scored two goals and had two assists in UNC’s win over Penn State. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

By holding off the pesky Nittany Lions (14-7), UNC (19-2) also set a school record with its 16 straight win.

Aly Messinger (two goals, two assists) and Marie McCool (one goal, three assists) each contributed four points to the Tar Heel cause, while Sammy Jo Tracy scored the team’s final two goals midway through the second half.

Despite leading 12-7 with just under 15 minutes to play following Tracy’s second goal, the Tar Heels had already allowed Penn State to pull off a 5-0 run earlier in the game.

UNC scored its first three goals before the Nittany Lions responded by finding the back of the net on each of their first five shots.

A switch at goalie–from Megan Ward to Caylee Waters–and a motivated performance by Reed swung momentum back over to the Tar Heels.

In the ten minutes leading up to halftime, Reed scored three consecutive goals. Waters’ effort in the net held Penn State to just one goal during that span–giving UNC a 7-6 lead at the break.

Momentum stayed with The Tar Heels as they exploded out of the locker room for five goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half–including another by Reed–while holding their opponents to just one.

Not wanting to go down without a fight, however, the Nittany Lions roared back by scoring four straight times over the next eight minutes.

Defender Abby Smucker led Penn State’s final run by notching a pair of goals, but the effort was snuffed out when UNC fell into a “prevent” offense of sorts.

The Tar Heels return to the National Championship for the third time in four years, hoping to repeat their success from 2013. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

The Tar Heels return to the National Championship for the third time in four years, hoping to repeat their success from 2013. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Their lead cut to just a single tally, the Tar Heels–who already run a patient attack centered around ball movement–unleashed the lacrosse equivalent of Dean Smith’s “Four Corners” offense over the final 7:18.

For nearly six minutes they played keep away from the Penn State defenders, never once appearing interested in taking a shot.

By the time they finally got the ball back, the Nittany Lions were only able to manage one more shot before the clock ran out.

UNC regained possession with 45 seconds left–then held on to lock up yet another trip to the season’s final game, a place they’ve become quite familiar with.

Up Next:

The National Championship game is scheduled for noon on Sunday, with UNC taking on the winner between No. 1 Maryland and No. 4 Syracuse.

Game Notes:

  • Penn State held UNC’s leading scorer, Molly Hendrick, to just one goal. She has 56 in the Tar Heels’ 21 games.
  • The Tar Heels haven’t lost since Feb. 27, when they fell 8-7 to top-ranked Maryland at home.
  • Waters saved eight of the 14 shots she faced after entering the game in goal for UNC midway through the first half.





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.