The North Carolina men’s lacrosse team powered its way to two undefeated national championships in 1981 and 1982. Despite these dominating seasons many Carolina supporters view 1986 as the Tar Heels sweetest, if not its most dramatic, NCAA title run.
The Tar Heels entered the NCAA tournament seeded fifth, carrying a record of 8-3. The three losses came at the hands of first Maryland, followed by Johns Hopkins, and finally Virginia. En route to winning the NCAA title UNC would avenge all three of those losses… and they would do it in the very same order they lost to them in the regular season.
The Heels were seeded fifth going into the tournament. No team seeded lower than fourth had ever made it to the championship game, and no team lower than third had ever won the title.
Carolina opened their previously unprecedented run with a 12-10 quarterfinal victory against Maryland, a team that had defeated the Tar Heels at home early in the season. The win propelled Carolina to Delaware, site of the first ever true NCAA Lacrosse Final Four. Never previously had four teams competed at the same location on the same weekend to crown a national champion.
The Heels semifinal opponent would be the two-time defending National Champions, Johns Hopkins University. Carolina had been on the losing end of a lopsided 16-4 score at Johns Hopkins earlier in the season, but this time the Heels would not be denied. The Tar Heels broke a nine all regulation tie with senior Mike Tummillio’s goal off a Gary Seivold assist two minutes into the extra session.
Fittingly, the title game two days later provided the drama indicative of the Tar Heel title run. UNC and Virginia traded the lead throughout the contest, with neither team establishing more than a two-goal advantage at any time. Another overtime period was required to settle the issue and Gary Seivold, the tournament’s most outstanding player, came through for the Heels with a score 1:50 into the extra session.
The win earned Carolina and Head Coach Willie Scroggs a third national championship, at the same time avenging Carolina’s most recent regular seasons loss, an 11-9 defeat to close the regular season.