Sweet Carolina: Tar Heel State Rules LAX World with Men's, Women's Titles

Sweet Carolina: Tar Heel State Rules LAX World with Men's, Women's Titles

The Tar Heel state came up big this weekend with a pair of wins in both the men’s and women’s lacrosse championship games. In Sunday’s women’s final, the North Carolina Tar Heels beat frontrunner–and previously undefeated Maryland–in a thrilling triple overtime contest, which was the longest game in women’s NCAA finals history. On Monday, the Duke Blue Devils men’s team upended #1 seed Syracuse for their second title in school history, 16-10.

This is the first time since 1994 that the winner hailed from the same state, when both the Princeton men’s and women’s lacrosse programs hoisted the trophy.

Men’s: Duke -vs- Syracuse

Experience and balance were the name of the game in this weekend in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse championship. Duke and Syracuse, winners of three of the past five championships beat out upstarts Denver and Cornell on Saturday for a chance to take home the trophy in Monday’s title game.

In the championship game, Syracuse jumped all over Duke, quickly scoring the first five goals of the game. Duke coach John Danowski said of his team’s shaky start that “I think the big stage, the big event got to us a little bit. I think guys were a little tight, a little nervous.”

Duke was able to ride out the early game jitters and began to figure out the vaunted Syracuse defense, and responded with a ten to two run to take a three-goal lead to end the third quarter.

Duke has won nine straight games when they’ve led when leading going into the fourth quarter, and they weren’t about to end that streak, as the Blue Devils came out firing early in the quarter, with three more goals, to give themselves a six-point lead.  

The inability of Syracuse to win faceoffs put the Orange in a deep hole as Duke was able keep the action in front of the Syracuse goal. Duke and Brendan Fowler, the game’s Most Outstanding Player, dominated at midfield, coming up with 21 of 30 faceoffs for the Blue Devils. Duke also had a huge advantage in other hustle plays, including coming up with 44 groundballs to Syracuse’s 27.

Game Notes: Duke went two 12-1 scoring runs this weekend, against both Cornell and Syracuse.

In Saturday’s game, Cornell’s Rob Pannell became the all time points leader in NCAA Lacrosse history, with 354.

Women’s: North Carolina -vs- Maryland

The University of North Carolina women’s lacrosse squad needed triple overtime, the longest final in history, to best #1 seed Maryland, the favorites going in the title game. The Tar Heels (17-3) had already fallen to undefeated Maryland twice this year, and were determined not to make it three.

The Tar Heels jumped out to a 3-goal lead early in the game and by halftime, that was the difference in the game, as they took that lead into the third quarter, 9-6.  The second half belonged to Maryland however, as they outscored Carolina 6-3, to knot up the scoring at 12 apiece.

In the first two overtimes, each team had plenty of opportunities to win, but strong play by both goalies kept the contest going. Finally, on a fast break opportunity, Brittney Coppa (3 goals) found a streaking Sammy Jo Tracy who was able to sneak a shot by goalie Kasey Howard for the 13-12 win. The goal was Tracy’s first of the game, and the one that counted in a tremendous effort, and spectacular game.

Game Notes: This is the first women’s lacrosse championship for UNC.

North Carolina beat the #2 seed, Nortwestern 11-4 on Friday, to get to the championship game.