CHESTER, PA. – The second-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels eventually succumbed to the top-ranked Maryland Terrapins and suffered a 9-8 loss in the championship final of the 2015 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship Tournament at PPL Park on Sunday.
With Carolina leading 6-3 at halftime, the Terrapins went on a 6-2 run in the second half to come from behind and capture their second consecutive national title and 12th overall.
The Tar Heels were making their second appearance in the NCAA final in the last three years and their third overall.
With the loss, Carolina finished its season with a record of 18-4, tying the school record for wins in a season set in 2013 – the year the program won its first and only NCAA title.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Tar Heels head coach Jenny Levy said.
“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, with Marie McCool adding two and Sam McGee, Aly Messinger and Sydney Holman adding singles each.
NCAA Tournament MVP Taylor Cummings finished with five points (3 goals, 2 assists) to lead Maryland, with Megan Whittle posting a three-goal, one-assist performance that was supported by single goals from Erin Collins, Kelly McPartland and Brooke Griffin.
While the Tar Heels got out to a quick 2-0 lead, the Terps tied it and pulled ahead 3-2 heading into the last 10 minutes of play in the opening half.
Strong possession play off the draw by the Tar Heels allowed them to put together a 4-0 run as Holman pushed the lead to 6-3 with a spinning, unassisted goal with 3.4 seconds left in the half.
However, during the second half, Maryland outshot North Carolina 12-4 and won seven of nine draws to regain control of the lead and the game.
The Tar Heels’ former Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) rival staked its claim to another national title and the first representing its new conference, the Big Ten.
“I’m really proud of my team’s effort tonight, especially in the second half,” Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said.
“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.”
Notes: The Tar Heels’ Bill, Caylee Waters and Sarah Scott earned spots on the All-NCAA Tournament team.
Maryland 9, North Carolina 8
UNC goals – Maggie Bill 3, Marie McCool 2, Sam McGee 1, Aly Messinger 1, Sydney Holman 1
UNC assists —Bill 2, McGee 1
Maryland goals – Megan Whittle 3, Taylor Cummings 3, Erin Collins 1, Kelly McPartland 1, Brooke Griffin 1
Maryland assists — Cummings 2, Whittle 1
Shots: UNC 15, Maryland 19
Ground balls: UNC 11, Maryland 11
Draw controls: UNC 8, Maryland 11
Turnovers: UNC 10, Maryland 9
Goalkeepers: UNC–Caylee Waters (46:56 minutes, 5 goals allowed, 3 saves), Megan Ward (L, 2-1, 13:04 minutes, 4 goals allowed, 2 saves); Maryland – Alex Fitzpatrick (W, 21-1, 60:00 minutes, 4 goals allowed, 8 saves)