North Carolina, the defending national champion in both men’s and women’s lacrosse, continued its domination of the sport this weekend by bringing a pair of ACC titles home to Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels men’s team won its championship by beating Notre Dame 14-10 in Durham on Sunday while the women used a decisive second half surge to pull away for an 18-11 win in Richmond against Syracuse in the third straight tournament championship game between the teams. Of the two titles, the one earned by the UNC men was the most surprising. And important. Coach Joe Breschi’s Tar Heels entered the weekend needing to win twice to finish over .500 and be eligible for selection into next week’s NCAA tournament. They succeeded by beating the nation’s top two ranked teams according to RPI while claiming their ninth ACC tournament crown. The result secured UNC (8-7) an automatic NCAA berth. Luke Goldstock scored four goals while tournament MVP Chris Cloutier added three for the Tar Heels in the championship game while Stephen Kelly won 10 of 11 faceoffs in the fourth quarter to help his team preserve a lead it never lost after scoring the game’s first four goals. “That’s 18 to 22 year olds, coming out there and understanding that their season will end if you lose,” Breschi said after winning his second career ACC title and first since 2013. “We talked about a 64-team tournament. To achieve some of your goals an ACC Championship and an NCAA Championship you had to win six straight. We won two, we won the ACC Championship and now we wait and see.” On the women’s side, UNC won its second straight ACC title behind a career-high seven goals from MVP Molly Hendrick. Carly Reed scored four times and Sydney Holman had three goals and three assists in a see saw game that saw both teams put together impressive spurts. Like the Tar Heel men, Syracuse jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead. Only in this case, UNC came right back with four goals of its own on the way to taking a one-goal halftime lead. The second half followed a similar pattern with the Orange scoring five unanswered goals to take control, only to have the Tar Heels (16-2) seize the momentum and the victory away by closing out the game on a 9-0 run. “It was certainly a game of runs and after we went on our (final) run in the second half, we said, ‘OK, don’t let them go on another run,'” UNC coach Jennie Levy said. “Obviously, one of the keys to the game is great defense, the one-on-one stops and taking care of the individual matchups. “Once we started getting some stops was key, but we also started dominating on the draw circle. They just didn’t have the ball in the second half as much as we did. Once we got into a rhythm, I think it really opened up their defense.” UNC and Syracuse also played in the ACC tournament title game the two previous seasons with the Orange winning in double overtime in 2015 and the Tar Heels scoring a sudden death victory a year ago.
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