UNC men's lacrosse prepares for Fairfield

After a fourth-quarter collapse against then-No. 13 Massachusetts that handed then-No. 7 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team its first loss of the season, the Tar Heels were left with questions about their ability to finish games.

Saturday at Fetzer Field against No. 15 Fairfield, UNC, now ranked No. 12, will try to respond to those questions in an attempt to earn its first win against a ranked opponent this season.

“Moving forward, we know you have to play a 60-minute game no matter who you play,” said junior midfielder Ryan Creighton.

A full-game performance at a high level will be especially important against a Stags team that has twice overcome fourth-quarter deficits and scored eight of its 18 total goals in the final period.

If the Tar Heels plan to put an end to that fourth quarter trend, they’ll need to focus on wrapping up Fairfield’s leading scorer from 2012, senior Sam Snow.

Creighton said that effort will require UNC to play great team defense.

“We don’t really leave anybody on an island,” Creighton said. “I like to think of us guarding each player with six guys.”

If the Tar Heels can stop Fairfield’s patient and controlled offensive, it will be up to the UNC attack to exploit a young Fairfield defense.

Capitalizing on goal-scoring opportunities and ball distribution were issues for the Tar Heels against UMass, and senior captain Marcus Holman is determined not to allow those issues to resurface.

“We talked and watched a lot of film as an attack unit,” Holman said. “We agreed that it’s disappointing that we only had one assist.”

Holman said making smarter choices and attacking the cage with the pass in mind will be important, especially late in the game. In preparation for this weekend, UNC has been scrimmaging late in practice more frequently to simulate fourth quarter situations.

“When you get tired physically your mental piece starts to go,” Holman said. “We definitely want to be dominant from start to finish.”

UNC created transition scoring opportunities late in last week’s game against UMass, which led coach Joe Breschi to believe his team has the ability to play hard for a full game this week.

“You’d be more concerned if you didn’t have opportunities to put points on the board,” Breschi said. “But when we do get our opportunities we’ve got to finish them.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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