IN SEASON Division I Women's Lacrosse

Digital Media Sports by Leigh Ernst Friestedt

April 27, 2021


DI Women's Lacrosse

After a year on the sidelines, Division I Women's Lacrosse is back in action and competing at the highest level heading into post-season play. The initial excitement of being on the field, intensified from the opening draw with undefeated UNC and Northwestern taking over the women's game. Any excuses of limited practice time, disruptive covid protocols or revised schedules – were ignored by the top teams who are focused on winning a National Championship.

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.

2021 UNC Women's Lacrosse

Double Headers

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.

While the lacrosse world eagerly awaits for the ACC to face off against the Big Ten at the NCAA Tournament - UNC and Northwestern will head into their respective conference tournaments. Ironically, the last game in the 2020 season - UNC defeated Northwestern (20-18), perhaps a preview to the 2021 NCAA Championship.

2021 ACC

  1. UNC (15-0)
  2. Syracuse (12-2)
  3. Boston College (12-2)
  4. Notre Dame (8-5)
  5. Duke (9-6)
  6. UVA (8-7)
  7. VA Tech (5-10)
  8. Louisville (5-10)

2021 Big Ten

  1. Northwestern (11-0)
  2. Maryland (7-5)
  3. Johns Hopkins (7-5)
  4. Rutgers (5-7)
  5. Ohio State (4-8)
  6. Penn State (4-8)
  7. Michigan (3-8)

The ACC is stacked with top teams: UNC, Syracuse, Boston College, Notre Dame and Duke are ranked in the Top 10. UNC and Syracuse defeated nationally ranked teams outside of their conference - Stony Brook, Florida, JMU, and Loyola - providing a benchmark for how strong the ACC really is this year.

2021 UNC Schedule

Overall 15-0

ACC 9-0

  1. Stony Brook (14-7)
  2. Florida (11-5)
  3. High Point (19-5)
  4. Duke (13-6)
  5. Vanderbilt (17-6)
  6. Boston College (21-9)
  7. Virginia Tech (22-1)
  8. Louisville (19-7)
  9. JMU (15-5)
  10. Mercer (18-3)
  11. Syracuse (17-6)
  12. Notre Dame (11-10)
  13. UVA (20-8)
  14. UVA (15-4)
  15. Duke (12-11)

Bold denotes ACC team

With nowhere to hide in the Big Ten and double headers every weekend, Northwestern took down every team twice - Michigan escaped a second game due to covid. The Wildcats dominated scoring 17+ goals in every game led by Izzy Scane with 70 goals on the season. Scane is supported by veterans Lindsey McKone, Lauren Gilbert and UVA transfer, Sammy Mueller, creating one of the most lethal attacks in the history of women's lacrosse.

2021 Northwestern Schedule

Overall 11-0

Big Ten Conference 11-0

  1. Ohio State (23-7)
  2. Johns Hopkins (17-8)
  3. Johns Hopkins (18-9)
  4. Penn State (24-13)
  5. Penn State (17-13)
  6. Rutgers (22-10)
  7. Rutgers (21-7)
  8. Maryland (25-12)
  9. Maryland (20-10)
  10. Ohio State (21-14)
  11. Michigan (19-10)

Bold denotes Big Ten team

Bring Back the Fans

Women’s lacrosse opened the season in February with snow on the ground and cardboard cutouts in the stands – although for the first time many dogs were in attendance. With parents and fans begging to see the games, universities gradually permitted limited attendance. The virtual fans were gradually replaced with real parents, who were thrilled their daughters had moved back to college and that they could socialize in the stands with their masks.

COVID Factor

The top teams have rallied around the pandemic with a no excuse mentality, but even if a team does everything right, they could be derailed by the COVID factor. A positive test could sideline a team at a critical point in the season. With limited opportunity to reschedule a game during post-season play – a team destined for a conference of national title could come up short for all the wrong reasons.

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.

2020 was an early end to a great season, but 2021 is accelerating full speed ahead toward a National Championship with some of the strongest teams in the history of women's lacrosse.

Follow your favorite team on SportsOgram.

Digital Media Sports by Leigh Ernst Friestedt

Copyright © 2021 Equity IX, LLC. All rights reserved.

No portion of this site may be reproduced, edited or duplicated without the express written permission of Equity IX, LLC.

Created By
Leigh Ernst Friestedt


Leigh Ernst Friestedt