15 Minutes of Dominance Separates North Carolina from Boston College


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Fifteen minutes.

On Saturday, that’s all it took to swing the ACC women’s lacrosse championship game, to keep an increasingly absurd list of streaks alive and to secure North Carolina’s position as the unquestioned No. 1 team in the nation.

The top-seeded Tar Heels ran past second-seeded Boston College at Dorrance Field 16-9 to win their sixth consecutive ACC championship and extend a run that’s seem them win 53 of their last 55 games.

In all but securing the NCAA tournament’s No. 1 overall seed ahead of Sunday’s bracket reveal, UNC also tied Maryland for the most consecutive conference tournament championships in ACC history.

And key in that victory, UNC’s 18th in a row in ACC tournament play, was a third-period crescendo in which the Tar Heels netted seven goals and allowed none to the Eagles across 15 dominant minutes.

“People will say, ‘Oh, it’s six in a row,’ but I don’t want to cheapen this one … it’s hard to be here and hard to get here and hard to finish, especially against such a great BC team,” UNC coach Jenny Levy said.

“We knew they were going to be shooting hard, doing what BC normally does,” goalie Taylor Moreno said. “To see how we can how well we can adjust and adapt, especially going down, was awesome.”

In a matchup of the country’s No. 1 and No. 2 programs, UNC came out of pregame warmups flat hosting the conference championship game on its home field. Boston College held leads of 3-1 in the first period, 4-2 in the second period and 6-4 at halftime, with fifth-year dynamo Charlotte North leading a balanced attack. North, who had three goals and one assist, tied Stony Brook’s Courtney Murphy for first in Division I history with 341 career goals.

Goalie Rachel Hall was also excellent with six first-half saves.

“Everyone was just kind of standing around,” Levy said, “and I didn’t know why were doing what we were doing … we worked through it a little bit in the locker room and told people what we wanted.”

And what did she and her staff want?

“To play unselfish,” Levy said. “No hero ball. Everybody had to step up.”

Fittingly it was Jamie Ortega, the decorated fifth-year attacker, who started UNC’s turning of fortunes with a goal 66 seconds into the third period. That solo strike pushed her past Maryland’s Jen Adams for the most points in ACC history. Adams had 445 points from 1998-2001; Ortega ended Saturday with 451 after producing four goals and five assists.

“It’s such an honor to even be in the same sentence as [her],” said Ortega, who led UNC with nine points en route to her second career ACC tournament MVP award.

Her teammates followed with the type of flurry UNC’s grown used to in this fruitful three-year stretch that also includes 31 straight home wins, 41 straight regular-season wins and 45 wins over its last 46.

Transfer attacker Andie Aldave’s goal with 12:09 left in the third quarter forced the game’s first tie since 1-1, and graduate midfielder Ally Mastroianni’s strike less than a minute later gave UNC its first lead since 1-0. From 7-6 onward, it was all Tar Heels: Scottie Rose Growney (four goals) and Ortega and Aldave twice more to end the period on a 7-0 run.

“Everyone was feeding off each other’s energy,” Ortega said. “We were yelling over each other because we were so excited.”

The Tar Heel defense made an impact in the third period, too, with Moreno recording three saves and UNC’s backline forcing Boston College into four turnovers. Saturday also marked the 34th time in 45 games the Tar Heels have held an opponent to single-digit goals (no small task in today’s game).

“At the end of the day, we just gave [the offense] enough opportunities to finally start finding the net,” Moreno said, “and that was all we needed.”

UNC’s hot streak and Boston College’s cold streak extended into the fourth period, as three more goals courtesy of Growney, Mastroianni and Ortega pushed the Tar Heels’ second-half ran to 11-0. Eagles attacker Caitlynn Mossman finally stopped her team’s free fall with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

That cut UNC’s lead to … 14-7.

After being outscored 3-2 in each of the first two periods, the Tar Heels rode a 12-3 second-half performance to their seventh all-time ACC tournament title. It’s also the seventh tournament title for longtime coach Levy, who moved past a tie with Maryland’s Cathy Reese for the most in ACC history.

So, what’s next? Boston College (16-3) remains a tournament lock, and the Eagles’ lack of an ACC tournament championship certainly hasn’t hurt them in the past. They’re the reigning national champs, and they’ve handed UNC its two sole losses over 55 games — in the 2019 and 2021 NCAA semifinals.

As for UNC (17-0): Saturday’s win was another peak in another excellent regular season for a program that’s appeared in nine of the last 12 Final Fours. Growney, though, is well aware that in her five-year stint, UNC has advanced no further. She wants more: her first ever national title and the team’s third.

“I don’t get a do-over,” Growney said, “so I’m really putting my heart on the field and making sure I don’t have any regrets. Everything I'm doing is for the team to make sure we can go far.”


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