Instead, an inconsistent offense and a poor defensive effort nearly resulted in the No. 12 Tar Heels' second embarrassing loss of the season to a lesser opponent. They were saved by three goals apiece from freshman Andrew Lucas and sophomore Steve Will, and UNC escaped with a 12-10 victory in front of 928 at Fetzer Field.
The narrow win came on the heels of a 13-4 victory at Delaware last week, a game that followed an unseemly 9-4 loss to Bucknell, an up-and-coming program at a small school in Pennsylvania.
"Our last game we played real fired up and ready to play because we were coming off a bad loss," said Steve Will, whose three goals were a career high, "but I think we were too lackadaisical all week in practice."
Will added that the Tar Heels (4-1) might have gotten caught looking past the Bulldogs to the No. 11 Blue Devils, a sentiment shared by senior defenseman Bobby Gormsen -- but shot down by UNC coach John Haus.
"This team can't look past anybody -- honestly," Haus said. "We have to take it one game at a time. We didn't have a great week of practice, but we were OK.
"The bottom line is you have to be emotionally into the game. You've got to be focused, intense. And we just didn't have any zip today."
At no time was the Tar Heels' lack of focus more evident than in the middle of the second quarter during a stretch of three unanswered goals by Butler (2-3).
With North Carolina leading 5-4, Bulldog midfielder Garett Rosencrans took the ball at the right side of the UNC defense. UNC's starting long-pole unit of Gormsen, senior Hunter Sims and freshman Ronnie Staines converged on Rosencrans, but he was somehow able to raise his arms and whip a goal from eight yards out for a 5-5 tie with 9:17 left.
Butler's Ryan Ward and Chris Aitkin followed with goals on plays that were virtual carbon copies of each other. On both, the Bulldog gathered the ball behind the goal and raced around its left side, drawing and easily beating a UNC defenseman who was left alone after none of his teammates slid to help out.