Maryland Beats North Carolina, 9-8, For NCAA Title

CHESTER, PA. (GoHeels.com) – 

Maryland’s women’s lacrosse team went on a 6-2 run in the second half to come from behind and defeat North Carolina, 9-8, in the NCAA championship game on Sunday night at PPL Park. Carolina led, 6-3, at halftime. The Terrapins capture their second consecutive national title and their 12th overall. Carolina finishes its season with a record of 18-4, tying the school record for wins in a season set in 2013 (18-3).

The Tar Heels were making their second appearance in the NCAA final in the last three years and their third overall. Two years ago, Carolina won the 2013 national championship in nearby Villanova, Pa.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Tar Heel head coach Jenny Levy said after the game. “Congratulations to Maryland, it was another epic battle, a battle of defenses, I thought, in the first half. In the second half, they just turned up their intensity, especially on the ride, and caused a lot of turnovers on us. And we just really didn’t have the ball to combat that. It was a tough game for us in the second half. But congratulations to Maryland, they’re heavily laden with seniors and I’ll be happy to see them all graduate. Proud of my team and their effort tonight, this has been a great group to coach.”

Maggie Bill led the Tar Heels with three goals and two assists. Marie McCool scored twice and Sam McGee had a goal and an assist. Aly Messinger and Sydney Holman both scored single goals. NCAA Tournament MVP Taylor Cummings finished with three goals and two assists for Maryland. Megan Whittle had three goals and an assist, and Erin Collins, Kelly McPartland and Brooke Griffin each scored one goal.

Tar Heels Bill, Caylee Waters and Sarah Scott earned spots on the All-NCAA Tournament team.

Bill started the scoring quickly with a free position goal just 15 seconds into the game. She assisted on McGee’s goal three minutes later for a 2-0 Tar Heel advantage. The Terps tied it five minutes later on back-to-back goals by Cummings and Whittle. After over 10 scoreless minutes filled with strong defense from both teams, Collins scored off a Cummings assist to give Maryland its first lead at 3-2.

Bill and Messinger scored consecutive goals for Carolina to retake the lead at 4-3 with 7:06 left before halftime. McCool made it a 3-0 Tar Heel run, taking a pass from Bill and scoring for a 5-3 lead. Holman pushed the lead to 6-3 with a spinning, unassisted goal with 3.4 seconds left in the half.

The score was 6-3 at the break, as Carolina won six of 10 draws in holding the Terps to a season low for first-half goals. Bill led all scorers with two goals and two assists prior to halftime.

The second half was another story, however, as Maryland out-shot UNC 12-4 and won seven of nine draws after the break. McPartland scored the first goal of the second half, dodging and scoring to make it 6-4 UNC and end a Maryland scoreless drought of 24:27. After a failed Tar Heel clear, Griffin took a pass from Cummings and scored to make it 6-5. Cummings scored her second of the game at 19:12. Carolina had six turnovers and just one shot in the first 12+ minutes coming out of halftime. Whittle’s second goal of the game made it 7-6 Maryland with under 17:00 to go, and her third came just over a minute later for an 8-6 advantage.

McCool scored on a free position opportunity with 13:59 to go, ending a scoreless span of over 16 minutes for Carolina. Cummings responded two minutes later with her third goal of the night to make it 9-7 Maryland. Bill scored unassisted with just over three minutes left to play to pull the Tar Heels within a goal, but Maryland was awarded the ensuing draw after a UNC substitution penalty and ran out the clock.

“I’m really proud of my team’s effort tonight, especially in the second half,” said Maryland head coach Cathy Reese. “We came out and these guys fought hard every possession against a good Carolina team. Give them a lot of credit, they were going hard all game long, but we found a way to crawl our way back after the hole we dug ourselves in and pull out a great victory.”