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The Daily Tar Heel

Men's Lacrosse Suffers `Toughest' Loss of Year

Hubris had felled many a foolhardy soul in ancient lore prior to that matchup. And the 14th-ranked Tar Heels became only its latest victim, appearing to invoke the ire of some angry gods Saturday night.

The Tar Heels -- with last week's win at Virginia and teasing thoughts of the impending ACC tournament on their minds -- got caught looking past No. 16 UMBC, plodding through an 11-10 loss in front of 2,052 at UMBC Stadium.

"A lot of guys, including myself, were looking forward a little bit to the games in the future," UNC senior defenseman Bobby Gormsen said. "We just can't underestimate any teams. That's what we did. We came out here thinking we were just going to walk all over them."

The loss muddied the postseason outlook for the Tar Heels (5-5) in a hurry.

A win Saturday, at least one win at the ACC tournament this weekend in Orlando, Fla., and a win in their last regular-season game against Pfeiffer nearly would have assured them an at-large spot in the 12-team NCAA tournament.

The only thing that will save them now is an ACC championship. The Tar Heels are the third seed and will play No. 15 Duke in the semifinals Friday.

"We've got to get over this one. This is probably the toughest loss we've had all year," UNC coach John Haus said.

One North Carolina player who clearly had his focus on the Retrievers (5-3) was senior attackman Jeff Sonke.

Sonke finished with three goals and an assist and helped give UNC its only two-goal lead of the game.

Drawing a double team, Sonke dished the ball to Steven Will behind the goal. Will found Andy Jonas at the top of the crease, and the junior attackman converted a score for an 8-7 lead with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.

Twenty-three seconds later, Sonke whipped in a shot from seven yards.

But UMBC ran off four unanswered goals after that, and the Tar Heels had to play catch-up again. They made a desperate attempt in the game's final minutes, clawing within a goal with 1:51 left.

But the two minutes or so of inspired lacrosse they played were not nearly enough to make up for the emotionless, going-through-the-motions effort they employed for almost the whole game.

UNC fought back from a 6-3 deficit in the first half but went 0-for-4 on extra man opportunities.

Last week's 7-5 win at then-No. 4 Virginia proved that the Tar Heels have talent capable of knocking off the nation's best. So what's blocking them? An inconsistent, turnover-prone offense? A defense that often can't make a stop when necessary? Or is it just hubris?

"I have no idea. I'm trying to figure that out right now," Sonke said. "This was a tough loss. A very tough loss."

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