By Turner Walston
Four Carolina spring sports programs will look to put a bow on the regular season with a strong showing in ACC Championships this weekend, and the Tar Heel men’s lacrosse team will face a challenge in a non-championship game against Virginia.
The Carolina men’s tennis team finished the regular season at 22-4, the program’s best record since 2007, and earned the third seed for the ACC Men’s Tennis Championship, taking place at Cary Tennis Center this weekend. With a top-four finish, the Tar Heels earned a first-round bye and will be the last team to take the court when they begin play at 3 p.m. on Friday. Carolina awaits the winner of #6 NC State and #11 Georgia Tech. The Tar Heels beat the Wolfpack 4-3 in regular season play, and downed the Jackets 7-0. Carolina’s Brayden Schnur bested NC State’s Austin Powell in a three-set thriller in mid-March.
Virginia has won nine of the last ten ACC championships (and the last seven), so any upset-minded team will have their work cut out for them.
Carolina (23-4, 12-2 earned the top seed in the ACC Women’s Tennis Championship, also being held at Cary Tennis Center. The Tar Heels will face the winner of #8 Florida State and #9 Syracuse at 9 a.m. on Friday. Both teams fell to the Tar Heels 7-0 in regular season play. Carolina’s two conference losses came at Duke in early March and at Clemson in the season finale last weekend. With a win Friday, the Tar Heels could very likely see either of those teams in Saturday’s semifinal.
Freshman Jamie Loeb went 14-0 in ACC play. Classmate Hayley Carter was 12-1 in conference, with her only loss coming to Notre Dame’s Quinn Gleason.
Boston College hosts the 2014 ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship this weekend in Newton, Mass. Third-seeded Carolina takes on the host Eagles at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The Tar Heels got the 2014 season off to a blazing start, winning their first 11 games before dropping three of four. A 17-8 win over Towson on Saturday capped a 13-3 regular season. A free-position goal from Aly Messinger was the difference in a 14-13 win over BC in Chestnut Hill in March. If the Tar Heels can overcome the Eagles again, they’ll face #2 Syracuse or #7 Notre Dame. The Orange handed Carolina a 12-9 loss two weeks ago in Syracuse. A year ago, the Tar Heels lost 12-8 to Maryland before streaking through the NCAA Tournament and defeating the Terrapins in triple overtime for the national title.
The ACC Men’s Golf Championship tees off Friday at the Old North State Club in New London. Carolina juniors Brandon Dalinka and Bailey Patrick sport identical stroke averages (73.93), and Dalinka is coming off an 11th-place finish at the Irish Creek Collegiate early this month. Carolina is seeking its best finish since a first-place tie with Georgia Tech in 2006.
As the fifth-place finisher in the nation’s best lacrosse conference (all six ACC lacrosse teams are in the top 13 nationally), Carolina failed to qualify for the ACC men’s lacrosse championship. Still, the Tar Heels will be in action jn the ACC Showcase game against sixth-place Virginia. The two teams will meet on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. That game will be broadcast on ESPN3. Carolina took an 11-10 decision over the Cavaliers on April 5 in Chapel Hill.