Delayed due to a thunderstorm, the NCAA matchup between No. 4 North Carolina and No. 12 Delaware kicked off 90 minutes late Sunday night on Fetzer Field.
And for the defense on both sides of the field, the start was even later.
After a 12-point first quarter shootout that included six tie scores, the Tar Heels were able to hold off Delaware, winning the post-season opener 14-13.
Delaware struck first less than a minute after the opening draw, but UNC midfielders Sean DeLaney and Jimmy Dunster were responsible for the next two scores. For almost 28 minutes in the first half, the teams took turns scoring, one after the other.
“It was pretty much what I expected,” Delaware coach Bob Shillinglaw said. “It was up and down, a lot of transition, a lot of crazy plays. I wish we had two more crazy plays.”
Despite high scoring from Delaware’s attackers, the Blue Hens only led once after their 1-0 start. In a 42-second span during the second half, Delaware scored three straight goals, leading the Tar Heels 10-9.
But less than two minutes later the Tar Heels recovered when DeLaney scored on a pass from Marcus Holman. The two led the Tar Heels in scoring with three goals each against the Blue Hens.
Delaware outshot North Carolina 45-43 and won 18 of 30 faceoffs. But fouling would be the Tar Heels’ Achilles heel against the Blue Hens. UNC racked up 10 to Delaware’s three.
“They are great shooters,” North Carolina coach Joe Breschi said. “When you give them nine man ups with their hands free, we’re going to end up paying.”
Delaware’s attack took advantage of UNC penalties, scoring on six of nine. But on the offensive side of the ball, something was missing for the Blue Hens.
For the first time in 25 games, Delaware attacker Curtis Dickson didn’t put a point on the board.
Tar Heel Michael Jarvis guarded Dickson, who leads the Blue Hens in scoring with 62, and held him to just two assists on Sunday. With their second highest scorer Martin Cahill at 34 season goals, there was no question where the team derived much of its success.
After the victory against Delaware the Tar Heels advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, and will take on No. 5 Duke in Princeton, N.J., on Saturday.
Although UNC beat the Blue Devils 13-7 in this year’s regular season match, they’ve fallen to Duke twice in two quarterfinal matchups (2007, 2009). But Jarvis is hoping the rivalry will keep this year’s team from suffering the same fate.
“There won’t be any need for extra motivation in that game,” he said. “I think everyone knows what we have ahead of us.”
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