UNC wins championship in 3OT thriller

Sammy Jo Tracy scored 31 seconds into triple overtime to give North Carolina the NCAA women’s lacrosse championship with a 13-12 win over Maryland on Sunday.

Brittney Coppa assisted on the goal that gave the Tar Heels their first national title in the longest title game in tournament history.

Katie Schwarzmann and Taylor Cummings each had three goals for the Terps (22-1), who were bidding for their 11th championship in 17 appearances.

Both goalies played well in overtime after the teams ended regulation tied at 12. North Carolina’s Megan Ward stopped Brooke Griffin from point-blank range early in the third overtime. Coppa took an outlet pass from Ward and raced up the field before finding Tracy to the left of the cage, and she fired a bounce shot from nine yards out that beat Kasey Howard.

There was a delay after the goal as Maryland requested the officials check the legality of Tracy’s stick. North Carolina players celebrated wildly on the field after the officials ruled the stick legal.

Kara Cannizzaro had four goals and two assists for the Tar Heels, who had lost twice to the Terps earlier this season, including the ACC title game when Maryland won its fifth straight conference title.

Coppa and Aly Messinger added three goals for North Carolina, which lost to Northwestern in 2009 in its only other championship game appearance.

Brooke Griffin had two goals and three assists for Maryland.

Neither team scored in the first overtime, with both goalies coming up with key saves. North Carolina had two great chances early in the second overtime, but Howard made a pair of strong saves on a free-position attempt by Taylor George and point-blank shot by Messinger.

Maryland erased a three-goal halftime deficit by opening the second half with five straight goals over the first 10:05 to take an 11-9 lead. Coppa’s driving shot with 18:23 left stopped the Maryland run, pulling the Tar Heels within 11-10 and ending a 16:23 scoreless drought. Cannizzaro tied it at 11 from close range with 12:44 to play.

Cannizzaro scored again from point-blank range to give North Carolina a 12-11 lead with 9 minutes left in regulation, but Alex Aust tied it at 12 with 3:51 remaining when she scored after coming from behind the net.

Maryland had a chance to win it in regulation, but Schwarzmann lost control as she was going in for a shot in the final 10 seconds.