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NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament Final Four Preview: (1) North Carolina vs (4) Boston College

The Tar Heels are chasing perfection. BC is chasing a long awaited first championship. Who gets to Sunday? Find out how in our preview:

2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship - Semifinals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The 10,000 Foot View

Date and Time: Friday, 12 PM ET

Location: Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson, Maryland

Network: ESPNU

LaxRef Win Probability: 69.1% North Carolina

Your Anticipation Level: THROUGH THE ROOF

The Nitty Gritty Numbers

North Carolina vs Boston College

THE STATS North Carolina Boston College
THE STATS North Carolina Boston College
Adjusted Offensive Eff. 46.0% (1st) 44.6% (2nd)
Adjusted Defensive Eff. 14.2% (1st) 26.1% (27th)
Adjusted DC % 64.4% (3rd) 69.9% (2nd)
Clearing Percentage 92.1% (6th) 89.3% (19th)
Save Percentage 56.2% (1st) 38.1% (86th)

The Key Match-Ups

  • The Draw Circle
  • The one area of this game where Boston College has an advantage is the draw control circle. No one in the country wins more draw controls per game than Charlotte North, and Holly Schleicher is very effective when she spells North as well. They’re 2nd in the country in Adjusted Draw Control Percentage. North Carolina, because they’re good at everything, is 4th. But it is an advantage for the Eagles. The question is, how much of an advantage can they make that? In the first meeting, the Eagles won 56% of the draws, which while successful, was below their 62% for the year. Their adjusted win percentage was 71%, in line with their average for the year. But it wasn’t enough. BC is much better than they were then and no one is anticipating a 21-9 UNC blowout again. However, the one discernible weakness for BC this year has been their defense at times (more on that later), even though it’s playing much better. Their strength is the offense, with the myriad of options they have and the human highlight reel in Charlotte North who commands attention and double and triple teams like no other. They can score with UNC and potentially even more than UNC. At this stage of the season no one is playing offense on BC’s level. So they have got to get that ball to the offense and they have to minimize the amount of defense they play against a UNC defense that is so patient and methodical and will wear you down. Does 56% of the draws do that? Maybe not. It might need to be upwards of 60%, it may need to be closer to 65+%. If they can decidedly control the draws and create a possession disparity, they could build a lead that even UNC can’t come back from.
  • UNC Offense vs Rachel Hall and BC Defense
  • The Tar Heels are the best offense in the country. They move the ball into the interior of the defense and cut off ball better than anyone in the country. That’s why Katie Hoeg has 70 assists. Jamie Ortega is the best finisher in the country, that’s why she has 81 goals. Scottie Rose Growney and Caitlyn Wurzburger can also score and dish, and then you’ve got more finishers in Taylor Warehime and Ally Mastroianni (who will be big at the draw circle vs North.) The names are a whos-who and the way they have such a complementary group of scorers, passers, and do-it-all pieces creates a nigh-unprecedently dominant group. BC’s defense as mentioned has struggled at times this year, ranking 27th in adjusted defensive efficiency, but has been below 20% in two of their last three games including against Notre Dame in one of their best performances of the entire season. This is where Hall comes in. She was at just a 22% save percentage in the first meeting and has had some tough outings in ACC play; on the year she saves 39%. However she had one of her best games of the season against Temple in the Second Round, and BC’s defense has helped step up to limit the number of shots she faces. She’s only faced 13 shots in the tournament. With an improved BC defense in front of her, this is Hall’s opportunity to buckle in and buckle in and make maybe not all or even most of the saves, but some of the big saves inside on Ortega or the other UNC finishers. If she can make two or three big saves to steal goals against the Tar Heels offense, that could be the difference that propels a BC upset. But with that maelstrom of an offense in front of her, it’ll be a big time ask.