Women's lacrosse: It's UNC vs. MD for ACC title on Sunday
North Carolina and Maryland are back in the ACC Tournament final for the fourth straight year. Now the Tar Heels have to change the result.
Maryland is one win away from its fifth straight championship after the top-ranked and undefeated Terrapins defeated Virginia 13-9 at Fetzer Field on Friday. The third-ranked Tar Heels followed with a 16-6 dismantling of Boston College, setting up the now-standard ACC championship game matchup Sunday at 5 p.m.
“We’ve been in this game now for the fourth year in a row and I think we’ve covered all the different stories and scenarios,” UNC coach Jenny Levy said. “The bottom line is the game has no memory and it’s 60 minutes and you have to go out and play. So whatever the story may be, it doesn’t matter. We still have to go out and perform.”
The Eagles (12-7) had won eight straight games, including wins over then-Top 10 teams Virginia and Duke, but they never really had a chance Friday.
Covie Stanwick, who has a school-record 60 goals, scored 44 seconds in to give Boston College a brief advantage. But the Tar Heels (14-2) then netted five straight as the Eagles went 23 minutes without scoring.
“They just have this furious defense that is relentless with pressure and fast and powerful,” Boston College coach Acacia Walker said.
BC’s Emily Mata made six saves to keep the Eagles within 6-3 at halftime, but the Tar Heels scored 10 goals on 13 shots in the second half to turn the game into a rout.
“We’re obviously excited about our second-half performance,” Levy said. “We left a lot of points on the board in the first half and we challenged our guys at halftime to be crisper.”
UNC improved the 10-1 all-time against Boston College, which includes a 19-11 home win during the regular season.
That sets up the rematch with the Terrapins (18-0), who beat the Tar Heels 14-13 three weeks ago in front of a Maryland-record crowd of 2,347. That was the only game the Terrapins have won by less than three goals this season.
“In Maryland we kind of had some ups and downs,” UNC junior Abbey Friend said. “This game on Sunday we’re really going to try and put the full game together and play a complete 60 minutes, from the goalie to the low attack.”
Maryland has the top-scoring offense in the country, featuring Tewaaraton Award winner Katie Schwarzmann and 100-point scorer Alex Aust. It also has the IWLCA National Defender of the Year Iliana Sanza.
“I want our players to be free to fly and really just put it out there and experience an opportunity for 60 minutes to play their best,” Levy said. “After last year’s game we didn’t feel like we played our best game. That’s a tribute, of course, to Maryland and what they did. My goal for the team is to come out and play our best.”
Maryland has won the three previous finals against the Tar Heels by at least four goals — 10-5 in 2010, 12-7 in 2011 and 14-10 last year in Durham.
“What we’ve done in the past, we’ve learned from and we’ve grown as a team, but that’s behind us,” Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. “We’re not spending time talking about the past or looking to the future. We’re in the here and now. We’re playing for this moment.”