HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. and CHAPEL HILL – May 22, 2021 was a banner day for University of North Carolina lacrosse. By the time Connor McCarthy’s overtime goal found the back of the net, each squad had punched their ticket to the Final Four.
The top-seeded women’s team needed a dramatic comeback over no. 8 national seed Stony Brook to keep their undefeated season, and national championship aspirations, intact. The Tar Heels reeled off a 5-0 run over the final 7:34 of game action to overcome a two-goal deficit and claim a 14-11 victory.
Jamie Ortega did what Jamie Ortega does to help will her team to a win. She scored four goals and tallied three assists, including scoring or assisting on the first three goals of the five-goal run down the stretch.
Stony Brook indicated they had come to play by jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first 7:00. The Tar Heels fought back to score six of the final seven goals in the first half to take a 6-4 halftime lead.
The Seawolves had zero intentions of going quietly though. Coming out of halftime, they tied the game a six in just over 4:00. The Tar Heels responded with two goals of their own to retake a two goal lead at 8-6.
At this point though, Stony Brook took control of the game by scoring four straight goals for a 10-8 lead. And even when Carolina showed their own grit with a Jamie Ortega goal to cut the deficit in half, the Seawolves immediately responded back to push the lead back to two.
It was at this point that UNC showed why they are undefeated and the number one team in the land by scoring the final five goals down the stretch. Perhaps more importantly than the offense in those final minutes, the Tar Heels’ defense really dug in and forced multiple turnovers to feed the offensive eruption.
In addition to Ortega’s exploits, Tayler Warehime added three goals, Katie Hoeg had one goal and five assists, and Caitlyn Wurzburger also had two goals.
Carolina advances to the Final Four in Towson, Md., where they will take on no. 4 Boston College on Friday, May 28 at either noon or 2:00 p.m. ET. The Tar Heels beat the Eagles 21-9 in their only matchup of the season back on March 6.
This trip to the Final Four is the ninth in the last 12 seasons for Carolina.
On the men’s side of things the top-seeded Tar Heels were in an equally close match. Neither team lead by more than two goals the entire match. Regulation wasn’t enough time to decide who would advance to the Final Four. It took Connor McCarthy’s overtime game-winner to settle things and send UNC to their first Final Four since 2016 (the last time they won a National Championship).
The men found themselves in a very similar situation to the women, down 10-8 at the 8:52 mark. The Tar Heels, just as their counterparts did earlier in the day, showed their mettle by scoring the next two goals to tie the game. Even after Rutgers scored the go-ahead goal with 4:00 to go, Carolina re-tied things just five seconds later.
UNC had a chance to secure the victory in the final seconds of regulation but couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer sounded.
Lance Tillman led the way in the scoring column with four goals, followed by three from Justin Anderson, and two from the aforementioned Connor McCarthy. While season-leading scorer Chris Gray didn’t score (breaking his 31-game streak), he did chip in three assists.
Carolina will take on conference foe no. 4 Virginia in the Final Four next Saturday, May 29, time TBA. The two played twice in the season with each visiting team claiming victory. The Tar Heels won 16-13 in Charlottesville on March 11 while the Cavaliers won 18-16 in Chapel Hill on April 10.
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