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Monday October 25th

Tar Heels survive late Bulldogs’ bite

All-American attackman Billy Bitter grabbed two assists in North Carolina’s 5-4 win against Bryant University. DTH/Phong Dinh
Buy Photos All-American attackman Billy Bitter grabbed two assists in North Carolina’s 5-4 win against Bryant University. DTH/Phong Dinh

More than 1,000 spectators littered the back of Francis E. Henry Stadium on Saturday, peering over the top railing and flooding the stairs to watch North Carolina’s men’s lacrosse 5-4 win against Bryant University.

It was worth it.

After snow began to fall late Friday evening, the team’s game was moved from Fetzer Field to Navy Field, which sits directly behind Henry Stadium.

From the start, UNC dominated possession. North Carolina moved the ball around the net, trying to work its offense. That led to a goal by UNC freshman Marcus Holman with 11:34 left in the first quarter.

But the Bulldogs didn’t just roll over.

Bryant goalie Jameson Love blocked 13 shots in the first half, which was four more than UNC’s goalie, Chris Madalon, stopped the entire game.

“They did a great job of mixing things up on us in the first half,” UNC coach Joe Breschi said. “With the zone, and the man and those sorts of things, … I think it was challenging for our freshmen to organize.”

The Tar Heels continued to drown Bryant with shots, composing a melody from the thuds and smacks of each deflected ball.

But UNC broke through three times in the second quarter.

Sophomore Thomas Wood, who finished the game with two goals and an assist, notched one in the second period, while senior Sean DeLaney added his two goals.

“The first half, obviously 30 shots are a lot of shots, that’s like a game for some,” Breschi said. “For us, we’ve just got to learn to shoot the ball better.”

The Bulldogs scored two quick goals in the first half, one with an extra-man advantage and one in transition, to keep Bryant in contention down 4-2 at half.

And it wasn’t finished.

The Bulldogs’ Bryant Amitrano and Travis Harrington scored twice more on Madalon in the third period to tie the game and carry momentum into the final stretch.

“I’m always just trying to make the next save,” Madalon said. “You get scored on. It’s pretty much a fact of lacrosse, but you’ve just got to prepare for the next shot.”

But the next shot was taken by Wood.

With 12:50 left in the game, UNC midfielder Cryder DiPietro crossed a pass from the right side of the net to find Wood.

By the time Wood caught the ball, he had already released a rocket headed straight for the goal.

Just like that, North Carolina was back on top and in control.

“I’m a right-handed player,” Wood said. “I play on that side a lot in the games as attackman. That’s actually my shot. That’s probably my favorite shot to take.”

Wood’s goal was the eventual game-winner.

After recapturing the lead, the Tar Heels continued to apply pressure on both offense and defense as time slipped away from Bryant.

But with 1:25 left in the game, just following a UNC turnover, Bryant midfielder Ben Sternberg cradled the ball through UNC’s defense and shot.

He missed, and Bryant had time for one final shot, a desperation shot taken with five seconds left by Harrington.

But Madalon located the attackman’s shot and blocked it with his stick to secure the victory.

“I thought we played great defensively,” Breschi said. “Chris Madalon was terrific.”

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