UVa Lax

Virginia’s Maggie Jackson (right) said the Cavaliers are excited to face North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. The Wahoos lost to the Tar Heels early this season. “I love beating any team at their home,” Jackson said, “so I definitely think it’s time for some revenge.”

Virginia senior Maggie Jackson put it best Sunday after the Cavaliers’ NCAA Tournament win over Navy. The UVa women’s lacrosse team has unfinished business with ACC rival North Carolina.

Jackson had a front row seat for the final shot of their regular season meeting in Chapel Hill. She watched teammate Sophie Alecoe force a turnover and Allison Shield sprint with time running out to get the ball across midfield.

Coming out of a timeout with two seconds left on the clock, Jackson watched Avery Shoemaker fire a shot as the clock wound down and as North Carolina goalie Taylor Moreno made the save to preserve the Tar Heels’ 13-12 victory.

The No. 6-seeded Cavaliers (13-6) head back to Chapel Hill on Saturday for another shot at No. 3 UNC (16-3), which will make its 17th consecutive appearance in the Elite Eight.

“I love beating any team at their home,” Jackson said, “so I definitely think it’s time for some revenge.”

In an early March match at North Carolina’s new Lacrosse and Soccer Stadium, UNC went into halftime with a 7-5 lead over the Cavaliers. The Tar Heels’ offense, only a week removed from a 21-goal performance against Northwestern, was clicking on all cylinders, but UVa came to life in the second half.

Virginia opened the half on a 4-1 run and tied the match at 11 thanks to back-to-back goals from Jackson and Sammy Mueller. With a little more than 10 minutes to play, Shoemaker scored to give the Cavaliers their first lead of the game.

With a little more than five minutes left, UNC recaptured the lead. Alecoe forced her turnover with 38 seconds remaining, setting up Shoemaker’s anticlimactic final shot. Taylor McDaniels led the Tar Heels that day with four goals. Jamie Ortega added three goals and an assist and Tayler Warehime also finished with a hat trick.

“You can’t get to a Final Four without going through Carolina,” Virginia coach Julie Myers said. “We came up a little bit short, and we’re really excited to get another shot at them.”

Ortega leads the Heels this spring with 73 goals and her 27 assists made her the first player in program history with 100 points in a season. Warehime is second on the team with 34 goals, followed by Olivia Ferrucci’s 31 and Katie Hoeg’s 31. Hoeg also has a team-high 65 assists.

North Carolina finished the regular season second in the ACC in goals (15.32) and assists (7.95) per game and third in shots (32.37) and shots on goal (24.21) per contest. Virginia ranks sixth with 13.42 goals a game and seventh in shots on goal (22.11).

“We’re pumped that we have another shot at them,” Mueller said. “It’s nice that we have played them before so we know their tendencies, but everybody puts in new sets and new plays for the postseason, so we just have to go to work.”

Shoemaker leads the Cavaliers this season with 50 goals. Mueller is second with 47 goals, while Jackson has 34 goals and 35 assists.

Virginia is competing in its nation-leading 24th straight NCAA Tournament. North Carolina has made the field in 21 of its 24 seasons as a varsity sport. Saturday’s quarterfinal is truly a battle of women’s lacrosse blue bloods.

Ron Counts covers University of Virginia athletics for The Daily Progress. Contact him at rcounts@dailyprogress.com, (434) 978-7245, or on Twitter @Ron_CDPsports.

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