When Katie Hoeg committed to the University of North Carolina to play lacrosse, she embraced the challenge. At such a high-level program, Hoeg knew she would be joining a group where every player boasted a long résumé of accolades.
As a standout athlete at Mattituck High School, from which she graduated in 2016, Hoeg was an All-American who tallied more than 500 career points.
“When I committed [to UNC] I knew it was going to be a tough road to try to be a contributor and fight for time on the field,” she said. “But I looked forward to the challenge.”
As a freshman, Hoeg appeared in 19 games, scoring seven goals with nine assists. It didn’t take long for her to assume a much larger role. This past season, the 5-foot-11 attack erupted for a school record 89 points to help lead the Tar Heels to the Final Four.
“My goal for myself was just to become a better player,” she said. “The only way to do that is play with the best every day.”
She finished tied for 20th in NCAA Division I for total points. She was equally adept at scoring and setting up her teammates. She scored 39 goals and dished out 50 assists. The assist total was tied for 10th best in the NCAA, led the Atlantic Coast Conference and set a single-season school record.
When the Division I lacrosse playoffs unfolded in May, Hoeg was one of several women from East End schools who represented the top teams in the nation. And it just so happened the Final Four this year was at Stony Brook University.
Lauren Daly, a Shoreham-Wading River graduate, started in goal for Boston College in the championship game against James Madison. Boston College lost 16-15.
Stony Brook had been the top-ranked team in the country for much of the season and the team had dreams of playing in the Final Four on its home field. Two Riverhead graduates, Carolyn Carrera and Courtney Troyan, played for Stony Brook in addition to Jesse Arline of Shoreham-Wading River. Carrera, who graduated in May, started every game on defense, leading the top group in the nation.
Troyan, a midfielder, appeared in eight games. Arline, a freshman attack, appeared in 10 games.
For Hoeg and UNC, the season came to an end in the semifinals against James Madison, which prevailed 15-12. James Madison went on to win the championship by defeating Boston College.
“Obviously it didn’t end the way we wanted it to,” Hoeg said. “Being a younger player, I think we learned a lot of lessons this season. Even making it that far was such an honor to be a part of. It was nice to step up and have a bigger role than I did last year.”
In June, Hoeg became one of three Tar Heels to be named to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Division I All-America team. She was also a first-team All-ACC selection in her first year as a starter.
Hoeg has found a perfect home at UNC, both athletically and academically.
“It’s a really proud thing for me to put Carolina on our chest when we get to gameday,” she said.
The valedictorian at Mattituck, Hoeg has continued to excel in the classroom at UNC. She was UNC’s selection for the Elite 90 award, which recognizes a student who has achieved at the highest level among the teams who reach the championship site for each sport. Hoeg had the top grade point average on her team.
She was one of four players on the team to be named to the ACC Academic Women’s Lacrosse Team. After completing her undergrad, she plans to attend either medical school or dental school.
When her team reached the Final Four, Hoeg had a big group of supporters behind her in the stands at Stony Brook. She said it was a surreal moment to play in such a big game at a stadium where she had been so many times before.
“Just being able to be in the stadium, on the field, was almost an out-of-body experience,” she said. “Playing in front of a Long Island crowd where people know you and they know your high school and where you’re from is an awesome feeling.”
James Madison raced out to a 3-0 lead in the semifinals game and UNC could never climb back to tie the game or take the lead.
“James Madison is a great team and they played their hearts out,” Hoeg said. “Unfortunately they just outplayed us. I think it was great just to get that experience in that sort of situation, especially for the younger players.”
Not long after her season ended, Hoeg began watching her two younger sisters shine at Mattituck as the Tuckers won the first state championship in program history. Riley, who was a junior, and Mackenzie, who was a sophomore, were both selected to All-Long Island second teams by Newsday.
“I was really proud of them and knowing where we came from, as seventh-graders to seeing them win a state championship, if you told me that six years ago I would have laughed really hard,” she said. “It was amazing.”
Photo caption: Katie Hoeg pictured in a game in February. (Credit: UNC Athletic Communications)
Photo caption: Carolyn Carrera pictured in a 2017 game for Stony Brook. (Credit: Stony Brook Athletics)
College: Stony Brook
High School: SWR (’17)
2018 Season: Arline appeared in 10 games, scoring a pair of goals with two assists during her rookie season with the Seawolves.
College: Stony Brook
High School: Riverhead (’13)
2018 Season: Carrera started 21 games on defense, anchoring the top unit in the country during her senior season.
College: Boston College
High School: SWR (’15)
High School: Mattituck (’16)
College: Stony Brook
High School: Riverhead (’16)
2018 Season: Troyan saw time in eight games, scoring one goal with an assist in her second season with the Seawolves.