CHAPEL HILL—Unseeded Navy closed the game on a 6-1 run in the final 16:06 of action and defeated defending national champion North Carolina, 16-14, in an NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament quarterfinal on Saturday at Fetzer Field.
After trailing most of the first half, the Tar Heels went on a 5-0, second-half run to take a 13-10 lead with 17:39 to play. Navy responded with its 6-1 run, including three in a row to retie the game four minutes later, and a 3-0 run in the final 11:37 to ice the victory.
Navy improved to 18-4 this season and moves on to its first NCAA semifinal appearance to meet Boston College next Friday evening in Foxborough, Mass. Carolina's season ends at 17-3. The Tar Heels were seeking their seventh Final Four trip in the last nine years and fell to 21-3 all-time at home in NCAA Tournament play.
Kelly Larkin led the Midshipmen with four goals and two assists, and Jenna Collins had three goals and two assists. Meg O'Donnell scored three times, Morgan Young had two goals and an assist and Julia Collins scored twice. Kayla Harris and Molly O'Sullivan added single goals.
“Congratulations to Navy,” UNC head coach Jenny Levy said afterward. “They're a tough team, and they played a great game. They have some Tar Heels there on the sideline in [former Tar Heel] Aly Messinger and Matt Holman [former UNC men's player], and I definitely thought they came in really well prepared with great energy.
“I'm obviously incredibly disappointed in the result [today], but not disappointed in the journey I've taken with this team this year. They've worked hard, they cared, and I don't have any regrets. They shouldn't, either. They've held their heads high and battled all year. As a season is a lifetime, you can have belief, do everything in your power and take care of all your details and sometimes it doesn't work out the way you want it to work out. That's life, and it's a really tough lesson for our guys, especially our 12 seniors. This hurts really badly for them. As a coach and as a staff, we're very proud of their leadership all year and what they've accomplished in their four years here.”
Sammy Jo Tracy ended her five-year run as a Tar Heel with a career-high five goals, along with four draw controls. Molly Hendrick and Marie McCool both had three goals and an assist, and Ela Hazar had two goals and three assists. Marisa DiVietro added a goal, Katie Hoeg had two assists and Carly Reed had an assist.
Hendrick finished the season with 83 points (a school-record 72 goals and 11 assists) to tie the single-season school record set by Kara Cannizzaro in 2013.
Saturday marked the final event in Fetzer Field, the longtime home of the Tar Heel lacrosse and soccer programs, before renovations begin at the venue on Monday May 21. The Carolina teams will play elsewhere during the 2017-18 academic year until the renovated Fetzer reopens for 2018-19.
Navy took a 2-0 lead in the opening five minutes before Hendrick scored Carolina's first goal, taking a pass from Hazar to make it 2-1 at the 23:57 mark of the first half. DiVietro took a pass from Hazar and scored just over three minutes later to tie it at 2-all.
Larkin scored her second of the day 20 seconds later and Navy had the lead again at 3-2. Young followed with an unassisted goal, curling around a pick and scoring from point blank range for a 4-2 Navy lead with 17:15 left in the half. McCool cut it to 4-3 at the 15:19 mark with a free position goal. Jenn Collins followed with an unassisted goal at the 14:09 mark, forcing a Tar Heel timeout while trailing, 5-3.
Just over two minutes later, it was tied at 5-all after Hazar scored on a free position try, then dished to Hendrick for the tying score at the 12:03 mark. A minute later, Carolina had its first lead of the day at 6-5 when Tracy took a pass from Hoeg and scored. Harris scored off an assist from Young at the 8:56 mark as Navy tied it back up at 6-all. Navy retook the lead at 7-6 with 6:48 to play when a Tar Heel failed clear led to a goal by O'Donnell of Navy. After the Midshipmen made it 8-6, McCool scored in the closing seconds to make it 8-7 Navy at halftime. The teams both took 20 shots in the opening half, but Navy controlled 13 ground balls to UNC's nine.
Hendrick's third goal of the day came shortly after the start of the second half, tying the score at 8-all. The Midshipmen were quick to retake the lead at 9-8, however, on a goal by Larkin with 26:08 left. O'Donnell's spinning, unassisted goal less than a minute later made it 10-8, but Hazar's free position goal made it 10-9 Navy.
Reed made a spectacular play to tie it at 10-all, causing a turnover in front of the Carolina goal, sprinting all the way down the field and dishing to Tracy, who scored at the 22:38 mark. After a Navy yellow card, Tracy scored again (off an assist from Hoeg) to give Carolina an 11-10 lead with 20:18 left. Tracy scored her fourth of the day and her third in a row with 18:32 to go to give the Tar Heels a 12-10 advantage. McCool then scored for a 5-0 Tar Heel run and a 13-10 lead with 17:39 to go.
Larkin stopped the UNC run with a goal with 16:06 to go that made it 13-11, then Smith scored off an assist from Jenna Collins with 13:53 left to cut it to 13-12. After a Tar Heel turnover off the ensuing draw, Julia Collins scored unassisted for another tie game at 13-all. Tracy's fifth goal of the day gave the lead back to Carolina at 14-13. After a yellow card to Hendrick, Jenna Collins' third goal of the day tied it at 14-14 with 11:37 left.
Navy retook the lead at 15-14 with 6:10 with a man-up goal by O'Donnell, forcing a Tar Heel timeout. Hendrick received her second yellow card of the day with 3:31 to go on a dangerous follow-through, and Navy added an insurance goal with 16 seconds
Caylee Waters made 10 saves in going the distance in her final college game in the goal, falling to 49-9. She ends her career with the most wins of any goalie in UNC program history. Ingrid Boyum made 11 saves for Navy.
The Tar Heels outshot the Midshipmen, 38-35, but Navy won the ground balls, 23-15, and had 18 draw controls to Carolina's 15.