For #1 ranked UNC, whose run at a 2020 national title was abruptly cut short due to a pandemic - the Tar Heels picked up where they left off last year - reinforced by USC midfield transfer, Kerrigan Miller, and Freshman attacker, Caitlyn Wurzburger. The Tar Heels remain undefeated at 15-0, but only beat Notre Dame and Duke by one goal to close out the regular season.
Covid protocols intensified conference play featuring Double Headers to minimize travel for teams. Historically, the ACC and Big Ten dominated Top 10 rankings and competed against each other during the regular season. But with new protocols in place, the Big Ten was limited to in-conference competition, so it remains unclear how the two conferences line-up.
Beyond the covid factor - injuries could play a key role and derail a team. Syracuse lost their top player, Emily Hawryschuk, early in the season with an ACL tear, and last weekend Megan Carney suffered the same injury against Boston College. Notre Dame's top attacker, Samantha Lynch, is on the sidelines with a knee injury. And UNC's leading scorer, Jamie Ortega, sustained a concussion against UVA and did not play against Duke, but will likely return to the field for the ACC Championship.
If injuries and covid don't take a team down, look for the heat to play a factor in post season play. For the powerhouse ACC conference, it was snowing in Boston and Syracuse last week, so these teams have limited training in warm conditions.