In one of the most exciting games in the history of women’s lacrosse it was a freshman that ended it. At just 18 years old, it is hard to imagine what Sammy Jo Tracy was thinking when she bounced the final shot of the 2013 season into the goal to give the University of North Carolina their first national championship in women’s lacrosse. Elation, shock and joy could be used to explain how the young woman felt after a very difficult season. The culmination was well worth it for the New York native.
Throughout the second half of the 2013 season Sammy Jo Tracy battled a foot injury that limited her playing action. There were a few games in the middle of the season in which she did not even get playing time. This was tough for the freshman because she started from day one when the Tar Heels took on the Florida Gators to open the season. Tracy has a very aggressive style that is not seen in women’s sports very often. She goes after every ground ball with reckless abandon and she took most of the draws for the Tar Heels early in the season.
Not being able to play can be difficult for any college athlete but it can be extremely frustrating for a freshman that has been touted as one of the best players in her class. As the season came to a close and the NCAA Tournament started Tracy felt her ankle getting better but it was still not at 100%. There were many ACC tournament and early NCAA Tournament games in which she would take the draw, play out the first part of the possession and then substitute for another player that was at 100%. The Maryland ACC Championship game was an example of this strategy by UNC coach Jenny Levy.
By the national championship game versus Maryland Tracy was getting much closer to 100%. She was able to win draw controls and play throughout the majority of the first and second half. Playing through the first two overtime periods was likely very difficult for young Tracy. By the time the third overtime started many wondered which team would tire first. After an amazing save by fellow freshman Meg Ward the Tar Heels gain control of the ball. Brittney Coppa sprinted down the field and passed the ball over to Tracy and the rest is history.