North Carolina shuts down Northwestern, 11-4, to move to women's lacrosse title game

North Carolina is headed to the NCAA women’s lacrosse national championship game for the second time in program history after a dominant defensive performance sparked an 11-4 victory over two-time defending champion Northwestern in Friday night’s semifinals.

It was the second win this season for the Tar Heels (17-3) over the two-time defending national champions. Third-seeded North Carolina will meet the winner of Friday’s late semifinal between No. 1 seed Maryland and fourth-seeded Syracuse.

The Wildcats (19-3) struggled to find any kind of rhythm on offense as North Carolina doubled the ball and held them to just seven field shots. North Carolina fouls gave the Wildcats nine free-position shots but they missed everyone. Top scorer Erin Fitzgerald was held scoreless and missed six free positions.

The early minutes of the game set the tone when Northwestern missed its first three shots. Fitzgerald fired one free-position shot wide, then hit the post with another before Tar Heels freshman goalie Megan Ward, a St. Mary’s graduate, stopped a Taylor Thornton shot.

North Carolina scored five straight goals to boost a one-goal lead to 7-1 with 22:57 to go in the game. During that stretch, the Tar Heels held Northwestern scoreless for 26:08.

Alyssa Leonard ended the drought with 20:29 left and Kat DeRonda fed Kelly Rich to pull the Wildcats within 7-3 and give them a glimmer of hope. Tar Heels’ Tewaaraton Award finalist Kara Cannizzaro quickly snuffed that.

The senior midfielder, face-guarded early in the game, scored four goals in less than five minutes to all but seal it for the Tar Heels, who set a program record for most wins in a season.
The Wildcats had won seven of the past eight national championships, but they did not pass well and made a lot of unforced errors among their 12 turnovers. The Tar Heels were much more efficient on attack, hitting 11 of 19 shots, and Ward finished with seven saves.

The Tar Heels suffered two of their losses this season to Maryland, including 12-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. The Terps (21-0), in their fifth straight final four, are looking for their 10th NCAA championship and their 11th national title. They are tied with Northwestern for the most consecutive appearances in the title game with eight (1994 to 2001).


katherine.dunn@baltsun.com


NC  4   7   --   11
NW 1   3   --     4
Goals: NC—Cannizzaro 4, Friend 3, Messinger, Griffin, Tracy, Devlin; NW—DeRonda, Macaluso, Leonard, Rich. Assists: NC—Messinger, George, Garrity; NW—DeRonda. Saves: NC—Ward 7; NW—Bianco 6.

North Carolina is headed to the NCAA women’s lacrosse national championship game for the second time in program history after a dominating defensive performance sparked an 11-4 victory over two-time defending champion Northwestern in Friday night’s semifinal.

 

It was the second win this season for the Tar Heels (17-3) over the two-time defending national champions. Third-seeded North Carolina will meet the winner of Friday’s late semifinal between No. 1 Maryland and fourth-seeded Syracuse.

 

The Wildcats (19-3) struggled to find any kind of rhythm on offense as North Carolina doubled the ball and held them to just seven field shots. North Carolina fouls gave the Wildcats nine free-position shots but they missed every one. Top scorer Erin Fitzgerald was held scoreless and missed six free positions.

The early minutes of the game set the tone when Northwestern missed its first three shots. Fitzgerald fired one free-position shot wide then hit the post with another before Tar Heels freshman goalie Megan Ward, a St. Mary’s graduate, stopped a Taylor Thornton shot.

North Carolina scored five straight goals to boost a one-goal lead to 7-1 with 22:57 to go in the game. During that stretch, the Tar Heels held Northwestern scoreless for 26:08.

Alyssa Leonard ended the drought with 20:29 left and Kat DeRonda fed Kelly Rich to pull the Wildcats within 7-3 and give them a glimmer of hope. Tar Heels’ Tewaaraton Award finalist Kara Cannizzaro quickly snuffed that.

The senior midfielder, face guarded early in the game, scored four goals in less than five minutes to all but seal it for the Tar Heels, who set a program record for most wins in a season.

The Wildcats had won seven of the last eight national championships, but they did not pass well and made a lot of unforced errors among their 12 turnovers. The Tar Heels were much more efficient on attack, hitting 11 of 19 shots and Ward, finished with seven saves.

The Tar Heels suffered two of their losses this season to Maryland, including 12-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. The Terps (21-0), in their fifth straight final four, are looking for their 10th NCAA championship and their 11th national title. They are tied with Northwestern for the most consecutive appearances in the title game with eight between 1994 and 2001.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

NC  4   7   --   11

NW 1   3   --     4

Goals: NC—Cannizzaro 4, Friend 3, Messinger, Griffin, Tracy, Devlin; NW—DeRonda, Macaluso, Leonard, Rich. Assists: NC—Messinger, George, Garrity; NW—DeRonda. Saves: NC—Ward 7; NW—Bianco 6.