Current Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2014 10:23:53 -0400
The North Carolina men’s lacrosse team excelled last year behind the powerhouse attack unit of Joey Sankey, Jimmy Bitter and Marcus Holman.
But Saturday, only one of those players took the field in the team’s annual alumni game.
Holman graduated last May and joined the Ohio Machine. Bitter is out for the fall with a leg injury.
Sankey, a junior, is the last attackman standing and is now working with several different players to find an attack unit that clicks.
“We definitely have a long way to go to get to where we were chemistry wise,” Sankey said. “We’ll get there. It’s just going to take time.”
Rebuilding the attack unit is a challenge the team faces going into a season of fall ball, but coach Joe Breschi is confident he can find a player — if not many — to work with Sankey and Bitter, once he returns.
“A lot of guys are trying that third spot,” Breschi said.
“That’s what the fall is for — an opportunity to try different guys in different spots.”
Breschi said he’s looking to senior Pat Foster, sophomore Spencer Parks and freshman Luke Goldstock to fill that void.
Freshmen like Goldstock should make a large impact on the team this year. UNC’s freshmen were ranked third in Inside Lacrosse’s rankings of recruiting classes and Breschi has high expectations for those freshmen.
“For us, they’re here to play,” Breschi said. “They’re here to compete for playing time.”
Aside from leaving behind an open spot in the starting attack line, Holman also left a space in the team’s leadership. Holman was the team’s sole captain for the 2012-2013 season.
The team elected redshirt seniors Greg McBride and Cam Wood as well as senior Ryan Creighton as the team’s captains for this season.
“I don’t think one guy can replace Marcus, but a host of guys can really lead the way he did, so it’ll take a team effort for sure,” Breschi said.
While events like the alumni game are important in making decisions concerning starters and the team’s structure for the rest of the season, more than anything, the event proved to be a playful competition amongst teammates — both present and former.
“I mean they have fun,” Breschi said. “I think that’s the most important thing, that both sides are having fun.”