It was quite the weekend for UNC sports programs. The Heels nailed down two more ACC championships, earned a huge result against NC State in baseball, and saw three more football players drafted into the NFL. Here’s a quick recap of each accomplishment.
There have been few programs as dominant in ACC play — in any sport — than UNC’s women’s lacrosse have been over the past few years. On Sunday afternoon, led by freshman Jamie Ortega’s six goals and one assist, they continued that dominance when they defeated Boston College 14-11 in the ACC title game.
The championship avenged a 17-11 loss that came at the hands of the Eagles last month. Sunday’s rematch allowed UNC to return the favor. Boston College saw it’s 19-game winning streak snapped as they suffered their only defeat of the season.
North Carolina has now won three consecutive ACC championships. They’ll enter the NCAA tournament with a 15-3 record. Boston College dropped to 19-1.
Miss any of the action? Then watch some -caliber highlights! pic.twitter.com/3n9Vqa02So— UNC Women's Lacrosse (@uncwlax) April 29, 2018
Not to be outdone, the North Carolina Women’s Tennis team also brought home some hardware. They continued their own multi-year dominance of the ACC, beating Duke 4-2. The victory earned them a ticket to the trifecta party, as it was also their third consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title.
More notably, it was also head coach Brian Kalbas’ 600th victory. It is his fourth ACC title, and the ninth overall for the university.
Sophomore Makenna Jones earned MVP honors, going undefeated through the event. She has won 15 singles matches in a row. The women finish the regular season with a 26-3 record.
Winning never gets old. #GoHeels pic.twitter.com/q3VKVPukOu— UNC Women's Tennis (@UNC_wtennis) April 29, 2018
NC State may not be much of a rival on the basketball court, but that has not been the case on the diamond. Over the weekend, the Wolfpack and Tar Heels continued their contentious feud. The result was a red-hot UNC team winning their first series in Raleigh since 2007. It was the first time UNC has swept the Wolfpack in Raleigh.
Of course, it’s not a UNC-NC State baseball game if there isn’t a little drama. The benches cleared on Sunday after Michael Busch “collided” with NC State catcher Jack Conley, though Pack Pride exaggerated quite a bit by calling it a “brawl”. I, for one, am shocked they would exaggerate and/or distort facts.
Michael Busch’s collision with Jack Conley that started a benches-clearing brawl between UNC and NC State. Busch called safe and gives UNC a 1-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/e7RulNkfJM— Pack Pride (@PackPride) April 29, 2018
For the entire series, shortstop Ike Freeman was only 3 for 14 from the plate, but made the most of his three hits. His 5 RBI led the Heels over the weekend. Center fielder Brandon Riley recorded four hits in 10 at-bats, scored 3 runs and added 3 RBI. He also drew four walks. Starting pitcher Austin Bergner helped clinch the series on Saturday with a final stat line of 8.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 11 K, and 0 BB.
Heading into the weekend, NC State was ranked #2 in the nation and were in sole possession of the best record in the ACC. This morning, they find themselves two games behind Clemson in the Atlantic Division race. (Is this when Wolfpack fans blame the strength of the Atlantic Division for their lack of championships? Asking for some family members.)
Meanwhile, UNC (31-13, 18-6) now owns the best record in the ACC with a 1 game lead over Clemson. The Heels hold a 2.5 game lead in the Coastal and have won 17 of their last 20 games. They will welcome UNC-Asheville to the Bosh on Tuesday.
Closing out the big weekend were M.J. Stewart, Andre Smith, and Austin Proehl who all heard their name called during the NFL draft. They were the seventh, eighth, and ninth Tar Heels to be drafted in the past two years.
MJ Stewart will join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who selected him in the second round with the 53rd overall pick. That is the highest a UNC DB has been drafted since Dre Bly went 41st in 1999.
Andre Smith heard his name called on Saturday afternoon in the seventh round. He’ll stay in the state of North Carolina and report to the Carolina Panthers.
Austin Proehl also was picked in the seventh round. The Buffalo Bills took Proehl as they begin to rebuild their offense after trading away multiple starters this offseason.
Akil and Matt gave a quick preview about what those respective fan bases can expect to see from the former UNC starters. Stewart’s breakdown can be found here. Smith and Proehl are covered here.
After the draft, players who are not selected often sign undrafted free agent deals or are invited to mini-camps. UNC’s former players were no exception to the process.
Cayson Collins signed as an UDFA with the Miami Dolphins. Donnie Miles and Cam Dillard (Atlanta Falcons), R.J. Prince (Green Bay Packers), Bentley Spain (New York Jets) and Dajaun Drennon (New York Giants), will all attend mini-camps in the coming weeks and hope to sign as an UDFA.