The Virginia Women’s Lacrosse team is playing in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, and they face a team they’re very familiar with in third-seeded North Carolina. By virtue of being the highest remaining seed in the pod, the Tar Heels get to host the game, which is set to kick off at noon on Saturday.
Virginia defeated Navy 15-12 last Sunday in the second round, propelled by a career-high six goals from third year Sammy Mueller. Fourth year Maggie Jackson added three goals, and goal keeper Charlie Campbell had nine saves in the game, several late in the game when the Hoos needed stops. Now, the season continues.
“It’s awesome,” Mueller said of getting the Hoos back to the quarterfinals. “It’s what you play in the fall for, it’s what your goal is as a team, and it’s just awesome we could come out and accomplish that.”
The Cavaliers will have their hands full with North Carolina, a team that enters the weekend with a 16-3 record, including a regular season win over the Hoos. “We’re pumped to get another chance at them,” Mueller commented on facing the Heels again. “The first game was really close, so we’re really excited to get back to work and hope we can beat them this time.”
In the first matchup, Virginia trailed by as many as four early in the second half before the Cavaliers used a 7-2 run to take a 12-11 lead with 10:14 left in the game. Carolina scored the final two games of the contest, securing a 13-12 win. Avery Shoemaker led the Hoos in that game with four goals, and Mueller and Jackson added three apiece. Virginia held a 16-11 edge in draw controls, something they struggled with against Navy.
Regardless, Virginia knows they’ll have a challenge on their hands when they face the reigning ACC champs. “You can’t get to a Final Four with out going through Carolina, and we’re just excited to go down...they’ve got a nice, new field,” Virginia head coach Julie Myers said of the Hoos’ trip south. “We were up one down the stretch of that game [regular season], and we came up a little short, so it’s going to be exciting to get another crack at them.”
The Hoos will be out of town for all the festivities around graduation in Charlottesville this weekend, meaning eight fourth years won’t be able to walk The Lawn. Instead they’ll have a chance to get Virginia back to the Final Four for the first time since 2014.
Check out all the action on ESPN3, starting at noon on Saturday.