Athletics

Two Carolina teams win back-to-back-to-back ACC titles

Both women's tennis and women's lacrosse won their third consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference Championships on Sunday.

Women's tennis team with ACC trophy.
Women's tennis. Photo by GoHeels.com

Two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill teams took home ACC titles on Sunday afternoon.

The North Carolina women’s tennis team won its third consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference Championship by defeating top-seeded Duke, 4-2, at the Cary Tennis Center. Women’s lacrosse team then defeated Boston College 14-11 in the ACC Tournament final at Koskinen Stadium on the Duke campus.

The women’s tennis is the first program to win three-straight ACC Championships since Georgia Tech from 2005-07. The Tar Heels’ ninth title breaks a tie with Clemson for the second most in league history. Carolina won in 2016 the last time the event was held in Cary and was victorious down in Rome, Georgia, in 2017.

The victory also marked the 600th win in the illustrious career of head coach Brian Kalbas, who now boasts four ACC titles since 2011.

“This year has been such a team effort. Great work ethic, great chemistry and great effort all season,” said Kalbas. “This one feels really special also because we’ve never beaten Duke in the ACC’s in my time at Carolina.

“I love this team. To see us battle back from losing the doubles point in every match this weekend. They have such an incredible work ethic and an attitude about themselves.”

Sophomore Makenna Jones was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after posting a 3-0 record at No. 1 singles and 3-0 at No. 3 doubles with playing partner Marika Akkerman. She also improves to 11-0 at No. 1 singles and extends her winning streak to 15 in a row this spring.

Carolina coughed up the doubles point in all three matches this weekend in Cary. Sunday saw Akkerman and Jones win on court three, 6-4, but Duke’s fifth-ranked tandem of Kelly Chen and Samantha Harris won on court two, 7-5, to give their team the early 1-0 edge.

Jones took advantage of an injured Harris on court one singles to knot the score at 1-1. Harris was forced to retire on Saturday against Miami and was clearly battling a wrist issue against the seventh-ranked Jones, who won easily, 6-1, 6-0.

Duke briefly took the lead back with a win on court five, but Chloe Ouellet-Pizer posted her third win of the weekend on court six to make it 2-all.

No. 27 Alle Sanford lifted Carolina into the lead for the first time with a 7-6, 7-5, victory over No. 54 Meible Chi on court two. It was a different story from the last time these two went head-to-head just nine days ago. Chi took down the Tar Heel rookie in straight sets during the Blue Devils 5-2 win on April 20 in Durham.

The last two remaining matches on courts three and four dragged the match near the four-hour mark. Carolina’s No. 92 Alexa Graham and No. 28 Kelly Chen took their match on four all the way to a third-set tiebreaker.

Meanwhile, Carolina’s No. 41 Sara Daavettila and No. 105 Kaitlyn McCarthy were locked up in a 5-5 third set on court three.

Graham had multiple opportunities to clinch the title up 6-4 in the tiebreaker, but Chen wouldn’t give in and tied it up at 6-all. As Chen was about to serve on court four, her teammate McCarthy double faulted on court three to end the match in favor of the Tar Heels.

Later in the day in Durham, Carolina’s women’s lacrosse team got six goals from freshman Jamie Ortega and an MVP performance from goalie Taylor Moreno to defeat top-seeded Boston College.

Ortega had six goals and an assist on the day, setting an ACC Tournament record with 15 goals in Carolina’s three wins over the weekend (breaking the record set by Carolina’s Molly Hendrick last year).

Moreno made 11 saves in goal and an ACC Tournament-record 33 overall to earn ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors. Marie McCool, Emma Trenchard and Katie Hoeg joined Ortega and Moreno on the all-tournament team.

For the Tar Heels, it was their third consecutive ACC title and their fourth overall (2002, 2016, 2017, 2018).

Carolina has won 32 of its last 34 games against ACC opponents and nine ACC Tournament games in a row.

“We had to play tough all game to make sure we took care of the details, starting with the draw,” head coach Jenny Levy said afterward. “The last time we played them, the last 13 minutes of the game we didn’t touch the ball because we couldn’t win the draw. Honestly, it’s effort and it’s focus and scrappiness. BC is really good and we had to do a really good job of possession and it starts with our defense getting stop and our offense handling their pressure.”

Carolina improved to 15-3 overall in 2018 and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as the ACC champion. Carolina rebounded from its loss a month ago to Boston College, which saw its 19-game winning streak come to an end.

Hoeg finished with two goals and four assists in the championship game and set an ACC Tournament record with 10 assists in three games over the weekend.

Other key contributors on Sunday included McCool (11 draw controls), Bill (three goals), Kara Klages (a goal and an assist) and Olivia Ferrucci (one goal and one assist). Ela Hazar added a goal.

Sam Apuzzo scored four goals for BC but needed 12 shots to get them as a result of the play of Moreno and Carolina senior co-captain defender Naomi Lerner, who shadowed her for much of the day. Cara Urbank added two goals and an assist and Kaileen Hart scored twice