Patience Unleashes Tar Heels' Offensive Prowess, Paves Road To ACC Title Game

April 21, 2012

Durham, N.C. ( - North Carolina ran into the ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship Game on Saturday afternoon, breaking free after a low-scoring first half, the top-seeded Tar Heels secured a 14-6 victory over the No. 4 Cavaliers in the championship semifinals at Duke's Koskinen Stadium.

UNC (14-2) went on a 7-1 spurt early in the second half to overcome the Cavs, who held the ball for the final five minutes of the first period and who were content to take a 2-2 tie into the locker room.

"I guess that's frustrating, but I wouldn't say it was a game-changer," UNC attacker Becky Lynch said.

What did swing this one fully in the Tar Heels' favor was their open-field athleticism, which routinely makes opponents pay for turnovers.

"We felt connected, and when you feel connected with everybody on the field, you have the confidence that they're going to make the next, right move," Lynch said. "We always knew it was there."

The Heels moved into Monday's title game (7 p.m., ESPNU) against the winner of Saturday's second semifinal, which pairs Duke and Maryland. They remained undefeated against the conference, sweeping five regular-season contests.

Lynch scored three times and now holds second place in career goals (19) and points (27) in ACC Championship history for herself. While impressive, none of that suggests she's a one-woman team or fascinated with the individual stuff. Kara Cannizzaro tallied four times and the Heels displayed an aesthetically compelling all-around attack in making the finals for the seventh time.

"We made the decision collectively to come out and finish, take the right shots and not force anything," Cannizzaro said.

Perhaps the best display of North Carolina's skill produced a 7-3 lead with 21:28 to play. The Tar Heels isolated assist leader Abbey Friend on one side of the field and Emily Garrity on the other. Garrity cut in front of the cage, took Friend's feed and beat goalie Kim Kolarik, who excelled in Friday's first-round win over Boston College but could not duplicate the performance against the Tar Heels.

The Cavaliers had hoped to make a charge to win it.

"We try to control tempo, especially when we know the team we're playing is so fast and powerful offensively," Virginia coach Julie Myers said. "We had chances. Our execution and desire were there; we just didn't match them with our sticks today."