PHILADELPHIA – If there was one team that could possibly knock off the undefeated Lady Terps in their quest for a third straight NCAA lacrosse title, it was North Carolina. After losing to Maryland by just one goal in last year’s title game, and again on Feb. 27 of this season, it was evident the […]
PHILADELPHIA – If there was one team that could possibly knock off the undefeated Lady Terps in their quest for a third straight NCAA lacrosse title, it was North Carolina.
After losing to Maryland by just one goal in last year’s title game, and again on Feb. 27 of this season, it was evident the Tar Heels had the potential to beat the mighty Terrapins. And that’s exactly what they did Sunday afternoon in the championship game.
North Carolina (20-2) ended Maryland’s 26-game winning streak by defeating them in a 13-7 match at Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia, but more importantly won the national championship and dashed the Terps’ dreams of winning a third consecutive title.
“I am very proud of the coaching staff and my team,” said North Carolina Head Coach Jenny Levy, whose team handed Maryland its largest margin of defeat since 2007. “We were gritty and tough all year and today’s game was no different. We have been in tight games all year. I think we played nine one-goal games. All year long we have believed, worked hard and found ways to win.
“I think probably 1 percent out there believed that we might pull this off today and that 1 percent was sitting in our locker room. Maryland is a great team and we had to play our best to beat them.”
Maryland’s Zoe Stukenberg struck first; however after that North Carolina put up six answered goals. Sammy Jo Tracy scored twice for the Tar Heels, while Ela Hazar, Molly Hendrick, Marie McCool and Carly Reed added others.
The Terps rebounded and scored three goals in the last nine minutes of play to get within two. Megan Whittle scored twice before teammate Caroline Steele scored her 37th goal of the season 13 seconds before the half ended.
Maryland kept the run going and a comeback from the two-time defending champs seemed like it was in the cards. Although North Carolina’s Aly Messinger scored roughly three minutes into the second half, the Terps answered with goals by Whittle (76th of the year) and Taylor Cummings (60th goal of the year) to make the score 7-6.
Unfortunately for Maryland, that would be the closest it would get.
North Carolina went on to score five more unanswered goals after that to push the lead back to six. Steele scored at the 9:59 mark, but that would be Maryland’s last goal of the year as the Tar Heels milked the clock for the last seven minutes of the game.
“We were hoping we could turn it around like we did last year,” Cummings said. “Unfortunately we didn’t. Carolina played us really tough. They found the seams. They made their chances count and we didn’t.
“They are better. I am sad that’s the way my class went out and that was my last game. But I couldn’t have been more thankful to be a part of this. I am just happy to be a Terp.”
Maryland ends its seasons in a bitter way, falling to 22-1 with only a Big Ten title to show for it. Still, head coach Cathy Reese said her girls should not let the loss undermine what they had done all season long.
“At the end of the day, with all of this you can’t let 60 minutes define you,” Reese said.