When North Carolina stepped on to the field in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts for the 2019 ACC women's lacrosse championships, the Tar Heels knew all they needed to do was follow the same script they wrote last season. They needed to stay calm, patient and focused against the No. 1 undefeated Boston College Eagles, and they needed to remain persistent. Fighting for a conference title against the top-ranked team in the country is no easy task, but North Carolina had seen this team before.
The Tar Heels won the 2018 conference title 14-11 in Durham against Boston College despite losing to them earlier in the year, and, on Saturday, one year after taking home the crown against the same team, North Carolina produced an identical result.
UNC battled back from an early five-goal deficit in the first half to win 15-13 and deliver Boston College its first loss of the season.
Carolina's Gianna Bowe, Taylor Warehime, Katie Hoeg and Boston College's Sam Apuzzo led all scorers with three goals each in the high-scoring affair. Hoeg and Scottie Rose Growney also picked up two assists to lead both teams in that category.
Junior Olivia Ferrucci put up North Carolina's first point seven minutes into the game to end an initial Boston College 5-0 run that gave the team some early momentum. The Eagles quickly fired back after Carolina's goal with one of their own to keep the five-goal advantage, but the Heels weren't done.
Ally Mastroinanni, Hoeg, Jamie Ortega, Warehime and Bowe capitalized on Carolina's balanced offensive and each put up a goal to tie the game 6-6 to remind Boston College that the Heels came to defend the conference title. Hoeg, the team leader in assists, picked up the assist on two of the goals. Passing became the secret weapon to Carolina's success, as the team out assisted Boston College 8-3 and outshot the Eagles 35-30. The offensive efforts didn't shine through for the Heels until the second half, but when the teamwork connected in the final 30 minutes, the results followed.
Katie Hoeg has tied the UNC career record for assists with 121. The record was first set by Ela Hazar (2015-18). pic.twitter.com/AHD94oyQHa— UNC Women's Lacrosse (@uncwlax) April 28, 2019
As the clock ticked down and the first half concluded, the intensity levels couldn't have been higher. But things were about to become even more interesting.
Carolina came out in the second half with a vengeance and immediately tied the score 9-9 with goals from Warehime and Klages. Then Hoeg stepped up to give the Heels their first lead of the afternoon off an assist from Ferrucci.
CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON: Automatic qualifiers for 2019 NCAA women's lacrosse championship
The back-and-forth battle continued with goals from Boston College's Dempsey Arsenault and North Carolina's Gianna Bowe, and then goals from Apuzzo and Warehime to keep the Heels ahead by one with less than 20 minutes remaining. Gianna Bowe gave Carolina an insurance goal at the 13:46 mark, the first time Carolina had led by more than one all game. Klages followed with a goal of her own, her second of the game to expand the lead to three. For the first time all game, Carolina looked like champions.
Boston College cut the Carolina lead down to two after a goal from Arsenault, and then one after a goal from Lappin, but Carolina hung on through the final whistle. Hoeg picked up one more goal to end the game at 15-13 and complete the ultimate comeback game and storybook finish.
The ACC title marks Carolina's third consecutive championship crown, and the win also clinches an NCAA tournament slot for the No. 3-ranked team in the country. The 2019 women's lacrosse selection show will occur on May 5 at 9 p.m. where North Carolina and likely Boston College will both wait to find out their respective seeds.