Freshman Sammy Jo Tracy scored in the third, sudden-death overtime period to lift North Carolina to its first NCAA championship in women’s lacrosse on Sunday night, outlasting top-seeded and previously undefeated Maryland, 13-12, in the longest title game in the sport’s history.
The Tar Heels (18-3) jumped out to a 9-6 halftime advantage before the Terrapins (22-1) stormed back with a 5-0 run to start the second half and take an 11-9 lead. Carolina responded with three consecutive goals, two by NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Kara Cannizzaro, to retake the lead, 12-11, with 9:00 to play in regulation. Maryland’s Alex Aust scored with 3:51 remaining to tie it up and force overtime.
Carolina freshman goalkeeper Megan Ward made a huge save on a Maryland breakaway in the opening seconds of the third overtime period, which led to Tracy’s transition goal on the other end, giving the Tar Heels their first national title 12:31 into overtime.
“It was an amazing game to be a part of,” head coach Jenny Levy said afterward. “After the second overtime, I just sat back and trusted my kids to do what they do. They’ve worked so hard all year and I’m very proud of the effort that they showed and their composure.”
Levy becomes the fourth coach in women’s lacrosse history to win an NCAA championship as a player (with Virginia in 1991) and as a head coach.
It was the second sudden victory overtime in NCAA title game history and the longest game in NCAA Division I championship history. It was the first overtime title game since 2003 and the fifth all-time. Carolina is now 4-0 in overtime games in its NCAA Tournament history.