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North Carolina men’s and women’s lacrosse are heading to the NCAA Tournament

The reigning national champions start their quest to defend their titles.

NCAA Lacrosse: National Championship-North Carolina vs Maryland Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are headed back to the NCAA tournament after bringing both titles home to Chapel Hill last season. Their paths to get here have been a bit different, and their road to another title will differ in difficulty, but their success to get back to this point has been great to see.

On the men’s side, the Tar Heels needed to win the ACC Tournament in order to secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The conference winner is not guaranteed a bid, but Carolina taking down two very highly rated teams in Syracuse and Notre Dame in order to win the conference title certainly helped their case.

As a result of some of their struggles this season, UNC (8-7 on the year) heads into the tournament unseeded. That was the same situation they were in a year ago when they were able to win it all, so hope is certainly not lost. UNC will travel to face No. 8 Albany on Saturday. Albany has lost just two games all season, to the tournament’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams, Maryland and Syracuse.

Should the Tar Heels make it past Albany, which will be tough, they’ll have to face the winner of Maryland and the play-in game winner of Bryant and Monmouth. So, probably Maryland. The Tar Heels had to beat No. 3 and No. 2 to get to this point, so the top team seems like the next logical step.

The women fared a bit better than the men, ending up as the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Unlike on the men’s side, winning the ACC Tournament did ensure the women would make the tournament, although it was never really a question with their strong run through the regular season.

The ladies will host their game in Chapel Hill at Fetzer Field, and they await the winner of Virginia and Elon. The Cavaliers and Phoenix face off on Friday before the winner gets Carolina on Sunday in Chapel Hill.

Carolina enters the tournament at 16-2 on the year and dominated their way through the ACC Tournament after securing their third straight regular season title. Like on the men’s side, Maryland is the top seed in the tournament for the women. It’s the ninth straight year with a top five seed in the tournament for the Tar Heels.

Both teams will be trying to make it to Foxboro, Massachusetts, for the Final Four at Gillette Stadium. Best of luck to both Tar Heel teams!