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MVP Hendrick (Manheim Twp), McCool (Moorestown) lead UNC to ACC title

Sunday, 30th April 2017

Categories College, Girl's/Women's, Posted 4/30/17
From Press Release

Fourteen years transpired between North Carolina’s first Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Lacrosse Championship and its second last season. The Tar Heels made certain that their wait for a third was much shorter.

Led by tournament MVP Molly Hendrick (Manheim Township), Marie McCool (Moorestown), Carly Reed and Sydney Holman, the top-seeded Tar Heels closed Sunday’s title game on a 9-0 run to defeat second-seeded Syracuse, 18-11, before a sun-splashed crowd at Sports Backers Stadium.

Hendrick tied her career high with seven goals and added two assists for a career-high nine points. Reed delivered four goals, and Holman finished with a hat trick and three assists as UNC claimed its 22nd win in its last 23 matches versus ACC opposition. McCool had a goal and an assist, four draw controls, a caused turnover and a groundball.

“I’m a believer in process and journey and building a team from the ground up every year,” UNC head coach Jenny Levy said. “I not only put a lot of trust in my coaches and myself to train our girls, I also put a lot of trust and belief in the players themselves. We have 12 seniors, and at some point we wanted them on the field … and we just had to trust them to make the plays they needed to make.

“I’ll take two (ACC titles) in a row. I’ve never done that before as a coach, so I’ll take it.”

The defending national champion Tar Heels (16-2) again receive the ACC’s automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA Championship. Syracuse (15-6) is a virtual lock to receive an at-large berth when the tournament field is unveiled next Sunday (May 7). Seven ACC teams have earned postseason eligibility.

UNC and Syracuse were meeting in the ACC title game for a third year in a row. The Orange won in double-overtime in 2015, and the Tar Heels took the trophy in sudden-victory overtime last season. It appeared that this year’s meeting might be headed for a similar photo finish when Syracuse scored five unanswered goals early in the second half to turn a three-goal deficit into an 11-9 lead.

But the Tar Heels, who entered the match as the ACC’s leading scoring team with 15.5 goals per game, turned up the heat.

Reed began the decisive scoring blitz with an unassisted goal with 15:40 to play, and six more UNC scores in the next 5:19 – including three by Hendrick and another by Reed – put the Tar Heels ahead 16-11 with just more than 10 minutes remaining and in full control.

“It was a battle for a while, but then they started to control the draws,” Syracuse head coach Gary Gait said. “We got a little tired, and as a result gave them too many opportunities.”

UNC held a 22-9 advantage in draw controls, including a 13-4 edge in the second half.
“It was certainly a game of runs, and after we went on our (final) run in the second half, we said, ‘OK, don’t let them go on another run,’” Levy said. “Obviously, one of the keys to the game is great defense, the one-on-one stops and taking care of the individual matchups. One we started getting some stops, I thought, way key, but we also started dominating on the draw circle. They just didn’t have the ball in the second half as much as we did. Once we got into a rhythm, I think it really opened up their defense.”

North Carolina led 7-6 at the end of a streaky first half that followed Sunday’s pattern of both teams scoring goals in bunches.

The Orange opened the match with four unanswered goals, then saw UNC counter with four scores in a span of just less than six minutes. Syracuse counted with two straight goals to go up 6-4, but the Tar Heels closed the half on a 3-0 run – the final two coming from Hendrick off free-position – to grab their one-goal lead at the break.

UNC’s Hendrick had four goals in the first 30 minutes Holman scored two, and Ela Hazar added a pair of assists. Riley Donahue led Syracuse’s first-half attack with two goals.

“At halftime we talked with our offensive unit,” Levy said. “They felt like they were open, we just had to make some adjustments. We obviously didn’t get off to a great start in the game, but I thought we adjusted really well.

“Look, games are really long – two 30-minute halves – so if it doesn’t start the way you want it to and it’s not perfect, you’ve got to find a way. I thought the adjustments our coaches made on both the offensive and defensive ends were really effective. They freed our kids up. I think it was just a matter of time until they got in synch with each other, and it gave us some momentum to break open the game.”

The 2017 ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship All-Tournament Team:
Sam Apuzzo, Boston College
Kenzie Kent, Boston College
Posey Valis, Virginia
Kasey Behr, Virginia
Kaeli O’Connor, Syracuse
Natalie Wallon, Syracuse
Riley Donahue, Syracuse
Marie McCool (Moorestown), North Carolina
Ela Hazar, North Carolina
Sydney Holman, North Carolina
Carly Reed, North Carolina
Molly Hendrick (Manheim Township), North Carolina – MVP

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