And then they were two. The semi-finals of the NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament finished yesterday and there was no shortage of excitement, nervousness, and action. The undefeated University of North Carolina faced off against fourth-ranked Northwestern. Following that game, 2022 Big Ten champions Maryland faced the defending NCAA champions Boston College.
UNC vs Northwestern:
This game finished 15-14 to UNC but for a while, it didn’t look like the Tar Heels were going to another championship game. The Tar Heels were shut out in the first quarter as Northwestern’s offense scored six goals as Jill Girardi and Lauren Gilbert both had braces in the first 15 minutes.
Despite UNC being able to pull two goals back quickly in the second quarter, by halftime Northwestern had extended their lead to 8-2 with the help of a third goal from Gilbert. Jamie Ortega and UNC came out hot in the third quarter, as Ortega scored one and assisted two to help close the gap on the Wildcats. Lauren Gilbert wasn’t having it though and added two more of her own bringing her final total for the season to 79. Entering the final 15 minutes of play, the Tar Heels were down 13-6 and needed to play some of their best lacrosse in this fourth quarter to stay alive. And that is exactly what they did. Sam Geiersbach scored her first goal of the game with 5:37 to go to bring the Tarheels within four of Northwestern. With five minutes remaining, the score stood at 14-10 after three goals from UNC and one from Northwestern earlier in the quarter. After a goal from Scottie Rose Growney, Geiersbach scored four unanswered goals to ultimately lift the Tar Heels above Northwestern and send them to the national championship game.
Geiersbach scored the game-winning goal with just over a minute remaining but with so little time on the clock, Northwestern was unable to find the equalizer. Northwestern was very close to being the first to snap the streak, but UNC’s eight-goal comeback shows us all exactly why they are undefeated on the season and how quickly they can turn a game around.
Maryland vs Boston College
After UNC’s comeback, we saw a chess match between Maryland and Boston College with the biggest margin in this game being just three goals. Both teams’ attacks proved to be on their A-game as the game finished 17-16 for Boston College after a late winner by Cassidy Weeks. The first goal of this game was scored by none other than Charlotte North for Boston College but less than two minutes later, Libby May responded for Maryland. The first quarter finished 2-2 after a second from May and a BC goal from Kayla Martello. In the second quarter, Boston College was able to score three unanswered goals as North completed her first-half hat trick. But in the last three minutes, Maryland responded with four answered goals from four different players to put them up by one at the half.
It was 7-6 Maryland entering the second half, with 30 minutes of lacrosse left to play. The third quarter was extremely back and forth as the teams alternated goals scored after Aurora Cordingley scored 30 seconds into the half, but Maryland retained their one-goal lead to enter the final 15 minutes of play. Two early fourth-quarter goals from Maryland saw them gain a three-goal advantage. The two teams went back to alternating goals scored, but a fourth-quarter hat trick by Charlotte North, bringing her game total to six, brought the game to a stalemate at 16 with three minutes to go.
With 18 seconds remaining, two of Boston College’s seniors combined to score the go-ahead goal putting the Eagles up 17-16 on the Terrapins. Cassidy Weeks scored while she was assisted by Caitlynn Mossman. Proving that both teams were on their A-game offensively, a combined six players from both schools scored a hat trick yesterday. For Boston College, North scored six while Jenn Medjid and Kayla Martello both scored three. On Maryland’s side, Hannah Leubecker led the way with five goals and was followed by Jordyn Lipkin with four and Libby May with three.
The Final: A Preview
Boston College heads back to the final looking to defend its title for the first time ever. This is the Eagles’ fifth consecutive championship but until last year, they had been unable to break through and win it all. The Tar Heels will be returning to championship turf for the first time since winning their second title in 2016. They will also be fighting for a completely undefeated season after staying undefeated throughout the whole of the regular season. Both teams are playing very good lacrosse and the game is sure to be a close one, especially after the way both semi-finals went.
(Photos in gallery courtesy of @BCwlax and @NCAALAX on Twitter)
Additionally, this will be both UNC’s Jamie Ortega’s and BC’s Charlotte North’s last ever college lacrosse game. Both of these players are legends of their respective schools and will be extremely missed in the NCAA for their talent and goal-scoring ability. There are few players like both of these, and lacrosse fans are extremely lucky to have been able to watch both of them as long as they have been.