CHESTER, PA. 5/27/2016 – The University of North Carolina advances to the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship game for the third consecutive year. Behind five goals by attacker Carly Reed and key saves by Caylee Waters, UNC held off a Penn State rally to earn a 12 – 11 victory at Talen Energy Stadium. The Tar Heels have won 16 straight games, the longest in program history, but what matters is playing for a title.
“It’s awesome and it is what you work for all year,” said Reed whose five goals tied a career-high. “We only get so many games to play each year. This is what you live for since you started playing lacrosse. Getting to the game on Sunday is a dream come true.”
North Carolina held a 12 – 7 lead with 14:47 to play, and appeared to be in control. The defense limited opportunities for Penn State, and Waters made big saves to keep Carolina in front. Penn State did not go away. The Nittany Lions scored four consecutive goals, two free position goals by Abby Smucker and an unassisted score by Madison Carter, to pull to within the final margin with 7:13 on the clock.
“In the second half, we had some good opportunities to make,” said Penn State Coach Missy Doherty. “They held their championship composure. When we were down, they didn’t give up they just kept coming.”
The Heels got the ensuing draw and held the ball until the Lions forced a turnover with 1:33 to play. Holding for a good shot Penn State got that chance when attacker Steph Lazlo let a shot go saved by Waters to the left at the 49 second mark. UNC got the ball and held on for the win.
“I told my self to have confidence in my teammates and to just have fun,” said Waters about the last of her eight saves. “I didn’t put any pressure on myself. If I had to make a save I was excited about it.”
It was a game where each team scored in bunches. Carolina scored the first three goals. PSU answered with the next five. The Tar Heels got four of the next five to take a 7 – 6 lead into halftime. Reed had three of her five scores in that stretch.
In the second half UNC had five of the first six goals to take control, only to have Penn State rally.
“Penn State has done that before, got on runs” said North Carolina Coach Jenny Levy. “We felt that pressure would come. We needed to stay calm and go with what got us there. It is a little nerve racking.”
In addition to Reed, attacker Aly Messinger and Midfielder Sammy Jo Tracy scored two goals each. Messinger assisted twice. Midfielder Marie McCool, graduate of Moorestown High, assisted on three scores.
Attacker Jenna Mosketti led Penn State with 3 goals. Smucker and Madison Cyr found the back of the net twice.
It is another trip to the final, a chance to win in the final game, one that eluded them last year.
“We have unfinished business since last year did not go our way,” said McCool.
Written By: Glenn Papazian