By Anthony Caruso
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/27/16
North Carolina sophomore Marie McCool (Moorestown) said that her team has unfinished business. One year ago, the Tar Heels lost to the Maryland Terrapins, 9-8, in the Women’s Lacrosse National Championship game – and now they get a chance at revenge.
The Tar Heels are back in the NCAA championship game for the second straight year and the third time in four years after tonight’s 12-11 win over Penn State in the national semifinals at Talen Energy Stadium.
Coach Jenny Levy’s Tar Heels improved to 19-2 on the season with the victory while Penn State, in the national semifinals for the first time since 1999, saw its season end at 14-7. UNC will play for the national championship at 12 noon on Sunday against the top-seeded Terrapins, who handled Syracuse, 19-9. That game will be televised live on ESPNU.
The Tar Heels have won 16 straight games, and they’ve won six games by one goal.
“This team is really gritty,” said McCool, who had a goal, three assists and three draw controls. “We’ve been in so many situations, where we’ve had many one goal wins this year. We’ve come out on top of all the games, except for one of our losses.”
Carly Reed led the Carolina attack with five goals, while Aly Messinger and Sammy Jo Tracy had two each. Molly Hendrick (Manheim Township) and Kelly Devlin (Downingtown East) each had a goal and defender Stephanie Lobb (West Chester East) had a draw control and a caused turnover.
Jenna Mosketti, a Penn State senior, led her team with three goals. Madison Cyr and Abby Smucker had two goals each, while Katie O’Donnell (Henderson), Madison Carter, Kelly Daggett and Steph Lazo had a goal each. Natalie Schmitt (Archbishop Carroll) had three draw controls and a caused turnover and fellow defender Lucy Haubold (Great Valley) had two caused turnovers and a groundball.
This was a game full of runs by each team. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Penn State answered with five; then North Carolina scored three more for a 6-5 lead. Each team scored a goal before halftime at 7-6.
After each team scored to begin the second half, North Carolina scored four straight, before Penn State four more to make it 12-11.
“This team never stops fighting and we never put our heads down,” McCool said. “Even when they went on a run, we kept our heads up and we knew we were going to fight back. “
There were many local ties to the area in this game. There were 22 players, who are from either Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
“It was a lot of fun coming back home,” PSU sophomore O’Donnell said. “I was looking forward to it all week. It was a great crowd with a lot of friends and family.
“It’s nice to be back in Delaware County, even though I’m from Chester County. It’s nice to be back down the road from my high school. I had my whole family here, who were very supportive.”
O’Donnell, who like McCool and Penn State teammate Ally Heavens was a Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year, said her team accomplished many goals en route to its first Final Four berth in 17 years. Coming home to play in the semis just made it more special.
“It’s nice, because being up at State College, my parents make a great effort to come out and see my games,” she said. “They’ve been there for a lot of them. It’s the extended family and the friends that were here today — and it’s really awesome. This area draws a great crowd and to play in front of this many people were quite an experience. I’m really grateful for that.”
Penn State SCORING: GOALS: Mosketti, Jenna 3; Cyr, Madison 2; Smucker, Abby 2; O’Donnell, Katie 1; Carter, Madison 1; Daggett, Kelly 1; Lazo, Steph 1.
ASSISTS: Cyr, Madison 1.
North Carolina SCORING: GOALS: Carly Reed 5; Aly Messinger 2; Sammy Jo Tracy 2; Marie McCool 1; Molly Hendrick 1; Kelly Devlin 1.
ASSISTS: Marie McCool 3; Aly Messinger 2; Ela Hazar 1.
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