Patrick Kelly gets valuable playing time for UNC's men's lacrosse

Senior attackman Marcus Holman of the No. 5 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team might be one of the greatest UNC has ever seen, but with his last regular-season game now over, UNC is that much closer to having to fill the spot a legend once held.

Saturday, in a 20-8 win against High Point, UNC had a chance to give playing time to the man who could fill that vacancy — freshman Patrick Kelly.

Coming into the season, Kelly was the top-ranked recruit for the Tar Heels, but due to UNC’s strength at attack, he has been stuck on the bench for most of the season.

“Obviously you want your shot, but as long as the team is doing well, you’re pretty much willing to do anything,” Kelly said. “Whenever they call me up and need me, I’ll be ready.”

And in a blowout game against a first-year program, Kelly was ready.

With two goals on two shots in about two and a half quarters of playing time, Kelly put up the same total as UNC’s three regular starters at attack and proved that he’s prepared for the future.

“I’m behind three great attackmen, and they’ve been teaching me a lot this year,” Kelly said. “When you can get your shots and get that experience, it’s invaluable.”

For Holman, Kelly getting time on the field isn’t just good for the future — it’s good for the team now.

“I’m sure we’ll need him down the stretch,” Holman said. “Patrick is a really hard worker. He’s a guy that puts in a lot of extra time.”

With all the talent and leadership in front of Kelly, it’s no surprise that he’s been pushed to work hard.

Coach Joe Breschi said that Holman’s performance and attitude from game day to practice, and even off the field, have played a positive role in Kelly’s development as a player and person.

Even though High Point wasn’t one of the tougher teams UNC has faced this season, Kelly’s performance showed the potential the young attackman has.

“At any given moment he can come in there and replace somebody,” Breschi said. “For him to come in the way he did and play solid minutes and score a couple, I think is terrific.”

For now, Holman is still around, and he will be until UNC’s postseason run ends.

But even the All-American can’t help but recognize what Kelly is capable of.

“We’ve definitely tried to bring him along and develop his game,” Holman said. “He has a bright future here at Carolina.”

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