Delayed due to a thunderstorm, the NCAA matchup between No. 4 North Carolina and No. 12 Delaware kicked off 90 minutes late Sunday on Fetzer Field.
For the defense on both sides of the field, the start was even later.
After a 12-point first quarter shootout which 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. The teams traded goals for almost 28 minutes in the first half.
“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 face offs. But fouling was the Tar Heels’ biggest problem. UNC struggled with penalties throughout the game, racking up nine 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 while man up. 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 single point on the board.
The Tar Heels face guarded Dickson, who leads the Blue Hens in scoring with 62, holding him to just two assists on Sunday. With their second-highest scorer Martin Cahill at 34 season goals, there’s no question about where the team derives much of its success.
“I know it certainly was frustrating for him that they devised their whole defensive scheme to not let him touch the ball,” Shillinglaw said. “It just goes to show you how much respect they had for a lot of our players.”
The Tar Heels advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament and will face No. 5 Duke in Princeton, N.J., on Saturday.
UNC fell to Duke in the quarterfinals of last year’s tournament. But defenseman Michael Jarvis is hoping the heated 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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