I think if I had written this a few hours earlier right after I came home from the game, it would be little bit different. The word "wow" would be featured prominently and more than once, because, wow, what a game.
When the Orange women jumped out to a 4-0 lead, I was thinking that the headline for this piece would be Tarred Heels. Then, with the Orange trailing 15-12 and seemingly locked into trading goals with North Carolina, I was thinking Tarred by the Heels. Then something pretty amazing happened (and I had an inner dialog that involved myself and Otto and went something like this), and the first words out of my mouth after the final horn sounded and the Orange won 17-16 were what I went with after running them through the "seven words you can't say on television" filter.
Brent Axe had Gary Gait on earlier in the week to talk about this game, and one of the things Gait mentioned was that both teams really liked to get up and down the field. This was true as evidenced by the 17-16 final score. What the score hides are some stellar individual performances and if you were not watching or listening the fact that the Orange women kinda, sorta stole this game almost as much as North Carolina did the same.
In the preview, I said the following
I like the Orange women in this game 12-10, giving them the nod based on ... Alyssa Constantino's superior save percentage (.523 to Lauren Maksym's .468)...
I could not have been more wrong. Between Constantino and Kelsey Richardson, the Orange goalies managed 1 whole save, whereas Lauren Maksym had 11. I haven't seen a lot of women's lacrosse games, but 11 saves is an absurdly high number of saves considering that 3 of them came on free position shots, which is a high percentage scoring play in which the attacker gets a free run at the goal from 8 meters. The disparity in goalie play is what allowed North Carolina to almost steal the game. Better play by the Orange, or the failure of Lauren Maksym to play lights out and the Orange win this game by two or three goals, maybe more.
The Orange women's quasi-theft comes courtesy of late game heroics. Trailing 16-14 with 3:04 to play after Laura Zimmerman's SIXTH goal of the game (more on that later) the Orange pulled to within a goal at 16-15 on Michelle Tumulo's third goal at the 2:24 mark. The Orange got the ball when Bridget Daley got the draw control, and after working the ball around for a shot Kailah Kempney got her second of the game off an assist from Michelle Tumulo with 39 seconds left to tie the game at 16 all. Kempney then won the draw the and Orange women quickly got the ball below the restraining line and Michelle Tumulo pumped in her fourth of the game from close range to give the Orange a 17-16 lead with five seconds left to play. Yeah, Tumulo's a Tewarraton Award finalist for a reason.
Speaking of Tewarraton Award finalists, Becky Lynch, the Tar Heel's finalist had a quiet game with a goal and an assist. Laura Zimmerman and Kara Cannizarro? Yeah, they weren't so quiet. The Central New York products made the Tewarraton Award nominee list, and along with Lauren Maksym were the reason North Carolina was in a position to win the game. Zimmerman had 7 points on 6 goals and an assist, while Cannizarro had 5 goals to tie her career high. Between the two of them, Zimmerman and Cannizarro had almost 70% of the Tar Heel goals. Wow.
I have to say, this game was easily the most exciting lacrosse game I've seen in person this year, and maybe seen at all (men or women's) this year. The women's game is different (no hitting) but from a skill standpoint anyone who is a lacrosse fan has to give it up to the girls. The way they are able to roll and dodge and keep the ball in their crosse is amazing considering that the pocket on a women's stick is something like a third of the depth of the pocket on a men's crosse.
Also, some dap to the Tar Heels faithful. I'm sure the fact that Zimmerman and Cannizarro are local products helped bring out Tar Heels fans, but the crowd was around 1000 people, and I'd say that 30-40% of them were wearing Carolina blue. They were loud and proud. As far as the Orange crowd goes, mad ups to James Southerland (the beard was even more impressive in person) and three or four others who I'm pretty sure were members of the football team. They showed up late, or at least made their way to near where I was sitting late, but they were loud and enthusiastic, leading some chants and got the crowd riled up and making some serious noise when it got to be crunch time and the Orange women rallied.
If you are an Orange fan or alum and you're in the NYC area, seriously, haul yourself out to LaValle stadium and cheer on the Women's Lacrosse team. The tickets are cheap ($20 for the weekend) and the lacrosse is seriously good. You won't regret it. The Orange's next game is Friday May 25th at either 5:30 or 8:00pm against tournament number one seed Florida Gators (15-2 winners over Penn State). The Orange women beat the Gators 12-11 in double overtime on March 3rd of this year to kick off their 15 game winning streak.