Top-seeded North Carolina used a powerful defensive effort Sunday to thwart No. 2 seed Syracuse and win the 2021 ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship, 9-4, at Dorrance Field.
North Carolina (18-0) captured its fifth straight ACC Championship and the sixth in program history. Carolina also won its 15th consecutive ACC Tournament game, breaking the previous record of 14, set by Maryland from 2009-14. Carolina’s last ACC Tournament loss came in the 2015 championship game to Syracuse.
Jamie Ortega recorded a hat trick and two assists for the Tar Heels, while Melissa Sconone scored a pair of goals and added an assist. Katie Hoeg tallied a goal and an assist. She finished with 14 assists in the tournament, breaking her own ACC record of 12, set in 2019. Senior defender Caroline Wakefield highlighted Carolina’s stifling defensive effort, recording five caused turnovers and picking up four ground balls.
Freshman Emma Ward had a hand in all four goals for Syracuse (14-3), recording two goals and two assists.
Carolina goalie Taylor Moreno was named the ACC Tournament MVP for the second time in her career (2018).
The ACC’s top two defenses throughout the season were showcased on Sunday, as the 13 combined goals marked the fewest ever in the title game of the ACC Championship. The previous low was 15, set in 2005 and 2010. Both teams recorded their fewest goals in a game this season.
North Carolina and Syracuse duked it out in the first half with the teams combining for just six goals. After Syracuse’s Emily Ehle started the scoring at 25:22, Carolina scored three straight goals over the next 10 minutes from Hoeg, Ortega and Elizabeth Hillman.
Neither team scored again until the final minute of the half. Following a Carolina yellow card, Syracuse took advantage of the man-up opportunity, breaking a 24-minute scoring drought on Ward’s short goal with 49 seconds left. Carolina came right back though as Ortega found Sconone, who finished from short range with 10 seconds left for a 4-2 halftime edge.
The teams traded goals over the first 15 minutes of the second half, with Ward’s second goal pulling the Orange to within 6-4 with 15:25 remaining. Carolina stymied Syracuse the rest of the way, holding the Orange scoreless while the Tar Heels scored the final three goals of the game from Sconone, Ally Mastroianni and Ortega.