PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

Asa Goldstock has been a rock in Syracuse’s net.

The 2021 Division I Women's Championship Weekend from A-to-Z


A relatively predictable NCAA tournament has left us with the top four seeds, three of which are quite familiar with each other. Towson’s Johnny Unitas Stadium will be the setting for the final three Division I women’s lacrosse games of the season.

Will Boston College reach a fourth straight title game? Can Northwestern get its first title in nine years? Will Syracuse finally win the big one? Or is North Carolina going to cement its No. 1 status on Sunday?

It’s time for the fun. Here we go, all the tidbits A-to-Z you need to know before the final weekend of the season commences.

A is for ACC.

Three ACC teams are represented this weekend. Boston College has the active longest streak of appearances in championship weekend (four), while North Carolina (three) and Northwestern (two) are making return trips, too. Syracuse returns to the semifinals for the first time since 2016.

B is for Belle Smith.

Belle Smith (44 goals, 15 assists) is Boston College’s sensational first-year midfielder. A third-team USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American, she was the only rookie named to any IWLCA All-Region first team and the only one to make an All-ACC squad.

C is for chalk.

The top eight seeds reached the quarterfinals and the top four seeds made the semifinals. Will this pattern hold for the championship game? If so, we’ll see North Carolina against Northwestern.

D is for drought.

Northwestern, which won seven national titles in an eight-year stretch (2005-12) hasn’t been to the championship game since 2012. The Wildcats are 7-1 in title games.

E is for Eagles.

The Boston College Eagles are back to Championship Weekend for the fourth straight time, having fallen in the championship game on three occasions by a total of six goals. BC, which converts 53.3 of its shots into goals, faces the toughest goalie to score on in the semifinals in Taylor Moreno of UNC.

F is for first.

Syracuse and BC are still in search of their first national titles despite multiple trips to the championship game. Syracuse was the runner-up in 2012 and 2014, while Boston College held that honor in 2017, 2018 and 2019.


The top eight seeds reached the quarterfinals and the top four seeds made the semifinals. Will this pattern hold for the championship game?


G is for Asa Goldstock.

Asa Goldstock has been a rock in Syracuse’s net. She’s posted a 9.33 goals-against average with a .450 save percentage. The second-team All-ACC honoree held UNC to its lowest goal total of the season in the ACC championship game, turning aside 11 shots with just nine goals allowed. Another performance like that will be needed against Northwestern on Friday.

H is for Kelly Amonte Hiller.

Northwestern’s Kelly Amonte Hiller is looking for her 10th NCAA title. The 2020 Tewaaraton Legend Award winner has her Wildcats back in the NCAA semifinals for the second straight tournament after a five-year absence.

I is for Izzy Scane.

Izzy Scane of Northwestern is a force. Ninety-four goals and a shooting percentage of 51 percent is on point. Scane has tallied at least eight goals on six occasions this season and has tallied 10 or more points five times, most recently against Denver in the second round, when she had eight goals and three assists.

J is for Jamie Ortega.

UNC’s Jamie Ortega (81 goals in 2021) has already stamped her place in Tar Heel history as one of the best — if not the best. Entering Friday, she is on a 61-game point streak and a 33-game goal streak and has tallied multi-goal efforts in every game since Feb. 21. The all-everything attacker needs just one more marker to set the single-season program goals record, which she set in 2019.

K is for the Katie Hoeg.

North Carolina’s Katie Hoeg is the ultimate facilitator. With 70 assists and 35 goals, she makes the Tar Heels go. She’s tallied at least four assists in five of her last six games. She assisted the game-tying goal against Stony Brook late in the second half, as the Tar Heels overcame a late two-goal deficit.

L is for Jenny Levy.

UNC coach Jenny Levy has once again used a balanced attack and splendid goalkeeping to guide her talented Tar Heels to championship weekend. This is UNC’s ninth trip in the past 12 tournaments. The U.S. women’s national team coach is looking for her third national title.








M is for Taylor Moreno.

Taylor Moreno of North Carolina is simply the best goalkeeper in the game right now. With a 6.41 goals-against average and .556 save percentage, Moreno is the emergency valve all top teams need to hoist the trophy. She has allowed 10 or more goals just twice this season and has five 10-save games.

N is for Charlotte North.

Boston College’s Charlotte North makes her championship weekend debut on Friday. She has matched Izzy Scane’s 94 goals this season while pulling down an astonishing 170 draw controls (8.95 per game). For BC to upset the Tar Heels, North’s scoring and drawing will be the driving force.

O is for Orange.

The Orange of Syracuse are back in the semifinals for the first time since 2016. Syracuse has overcome several key injuries and just kept chugging along. It will be fun to see the Tyrrell sisters light things up on the offensive end; the duo has combined for 100 goals and 54 assists this year.

P is for Ally Palermo.

Ally Palermo of Northwestern is a USA Lacrosse Magazine second-team All-American and one of the best defenders left in the tournament. The scrappy senior standout is a two-time All-Big Ten honoree as well.

Q is for Cara Quimby.

Syracuse’s Cara Quimby is a reserve midfielder who happens to be participating in her sixth year of lacrosse after redshirting her freshman season and utilizing the one-time pandemic waiver. Quimby has made 82 career appearances and scored 39 goals.

R is for rematch.

UNC and Boston College square off for a third time this season in Friday’s semifinal. BC could meet Syracuse for a fourth time this season if both teams reach the championship game.




PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Ally Palermo of Northwestern is one of the top defenders left in the NCAA tournament.


S is for Sarah Cooper and Ella Simkins.

Syracuse defenders Sarah Cooper and Ella Simkins front the Orange net. Cooper is a USA Lacrosse first-team All-American having caused 31 turnovers and picked up 44 ground balls, while Ella Simkins has 76 draw controls, 32 caused turnovers and 38 ground balls.

T is for Tar Heels.

The Tar Heels of North Carolina could claim a third national title on Sunday, which would be the second-most national titles since 2013 (Maryland has four).

U is for undefeated.

Two undefeated teams remain —North Carolina (20-0) and Northwestern (15-0) — and they are on something of a collision course. It’s a tantalizing matchup that many are hoping for. 

V is for victories.

The quartet of semifinalists have all won 15 or more games this season, totaling 67 victories. All that comes against just six losses, of which four were to North Carolina and the other two were to BC and Syracuse (against each other).

W is for Wildcats.

The Northwestern Wildcats have steamrolled through the season, never winning a game by fewer than four goals (March 13, 17-13 over Penn State). Of the 15 wins, nine have featured 20-plus goal games — and none of them were fewer than 17 goals. Syracuse will be the toughest defense they’ve seen all season.

X is for the X.

Each team features a player that can tilt the result in her team’s favor, even if she’s not the top threat. This includes North Carolina’s Scottie Rose Growney as the team’s second-leading scorer (45 goals), BC’s Cara Urbank (36 goals, 41 assists, 64 draw controls), Syracuse’s Emma Tyrrell (four goals in each of the past two NCAA wins) and Lauren Gilbert (65 goals, 62 draw controls) for Northwestern.

Y is for yesteryear.

A sophomore like Northwestern’s Erin Coykendall playing in her first NCAA tournament or first-years like Emma Ward or Belle Smith playing at such a high level is a rarity this season. With nearly everyone returning from last year’s truncated season, the veterans have mostly taken the game time and accolades. Ward’s breakthrough six-goal game against Florida in the NCAA quarters shows the Orange’s depth, while Coykendall is one of four 50-plus point scorers. Smith has done it all for BC.

Z is for zeal.

We made it! After missing last year’s event, Championship Weekend is here. The four best teams — at least in terms of seeding — are left standing. Let’s savor it and soak it in.