TITLE REIGN ENDS
CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina achieved the highest high last season by winning its first NCAA women’s lacrosse title. The Tar Heels experienced the opposite end of the spectrum on Saturday.
No. 6 Virginia came back from a four-goal second-half deficit to defeat No. 3 UNC 10-9 in an NCAA quarterfinal at Fetzer Field. The result snapped the Tar Heels’ 15-game NCAA Tournament home winning streak dating back to 2000 and a nine-game winning streak against the Cavaliers.
“Four years is done too quick,” said senior Abbey Friend, who scored more goals (198) than any player in program history. “This isn’t the situation that we wanted to end with.”
UNC (15-5) had ended Virginia’s season four times in the last six years and seemed on its way to doing it again when it led 8-4 with 26:30 remaining.
But the Cavs (12-8) scored six straight goals over the next 22 minutes. During one stretch, Virginia held the ball for 12 straight minutes, winning draw controls and using a methodical offense to keep UNC’s high-powered attack from doing any damage.
“Our rules allow you to stall the ball, and last year our rules committee didn’t have the courage to change that rule,” Tar Heels coach Jenny Levy said. “If we don’t have the ball, we can’t score. … It’s certainly not fun for spectators, but it’s part of the game.”
Friend finally ended the run by fighting through a double team and scoring with 4:17 left to get UNC within 10-9.
The Tar Heels had three more chances to tie, but Taylor George missed an open net from a sharp angle and Carly Davis’s pass in transition with 15 seconds left was intercepted by the Cavs to seal the win.
Virginia will face No. 2 Syracuse and No. 1 Maryland will play No. 5 Northwestern in the semifinals Friday in Towson, Md.
Meanwhile, UNC will miss the final weekend for the second time in six years. The Tar Heels won a program-record 11 games to start the season but had six players suffer season-ending injuries, including all-American midfielder Brittney Coppy and ACC co-freshman of the year Sydney Holman.
“We fought all year and had tons of courage,” Levy said. “We’re not going to use (injuries) as an excuse … it’s certainly not why we lost today. There’s nothing to hang our heads on with what we accomplished this year.”
Four of the UNC’s top seven scorers are freshman – including Carly Reed, who scored three first-half goals – and only three of the 19 Tar Heels used on Saturday are seniors.
“They’ll be stepping up and probably breaking my records, which I’m okay with,” said Friend, who set a school record with 65 goals during the game.
Follow UNC beat writer Harold Gutmann on Twitter at @haroldgut.
Virginia 11, North Carolina 9
UNC goals — Carly Reed 3, Abbey Friend 3, Maggie Bill 1, Carly Davis 1, Taylor George 1. UNC assists — Bill 2.
UVa goals — Mary Alati 2, Casey Bocklet 2, Kelly Boyd 2, Liza Blue 2, Maddy Keeshan 2. UVa assists — Bocklet 3, Alati 1, Blue 2.
Shots—UNC 27, UVa 17. Ground balls—UNC 19, UVa 13. Draw controls—UNC 11, UVa 10. Turnovers—UNC 11, UVa 11
Goalkeepers—UNC –Caylee Waters (30:00 minutes, 4 goals allowed, 2 saves), Megan Ward (Loss, 11-3, 30:00 minutes, 6 goals allowed, 3 saves); UVa – Liz Colgan (Win, 12-8, 60:00 minutes, 9 goals allowed, 9 saves)