Following the 2008 lacrosse season, coach Joe Breschi arrived at his alma mater, North Carolina, after leaving Ohio State — where he spent 11 seasons building a team from scratch.
On Saturday, Breschi will return to Columbus for the first time as an opposing coach, when the No. 3 Tar Heels face the Buckeyes in their famous football stadium.
“We know this game will have a little bit more meaning for coach Breschi,” senior captain Billy Bitter said. “Just in a sense that he started his family out there and he started a great program there.”
Breschi downplayed the homecoming aspect of the game, noting that he has already been back to visit Columbus with his family.
“We spent a week seeing friends and family members and it was great to see everybody,” Breschi said. “So this is more of a business trip for me.”
Though he’s been gone for almost three years, Breschi’s imprint is still strong on the Buckeye team. He was responsible for recruiting the Buckeyes’ current junior and senior classes.
And the ties between the two teams don’t end there. The Tar Heels’ chief assistant coach, Pat Myers, is the brother of Ohio State head coach Nick Myers, who spent five years as one of Breschi’s assistants.
The Tar Heels have beaten Ohio State in each of Breschi’s two seasons as head coach — once at Chapel Hill and once at a neutral site in Baltimore — and he admitted the games have been tough on his emotions.
“(Nick and I are) both miserable after the game regardless of who wins,” Breschi said. “No one’s really happy after the game, regardless of the outcome.”
Though Breschi and the Tar Heels will have to endure one more year of the rivalry, the coach will soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief. This will be the last year the two teams will play during the regular season, as the coaches have agreed to scrimmage instead.
“We’re such good friends that we felt it was in the best interest moving forward to just scrimmage and work together,” Breschi said.
UNC will need to shut down an explosive Ohio State offense led by sophomore attackmen Logan Schuss and Jeff Tundo.
The Tar Heels will need to do a better job on Schuss than they did last year, when the Canadian lit up UNC for seven goals.
Preseason All-American Bitter is looking forward to playing in the legendary Ohio Stadium, also known as The Horseshoe.
“It’s probably one of the most famous college venues out there,” he said. “We’re all excited to get up north and play in that incredible atmosphere.”
With all the outside factors involved with the matchup, it might prove hard for the Tar Heels to focus on the actual game.
But Breschi believes once the game starts, it will just be two teams battling for a valuable win.
“I think you can put all the personal things aside once the whistle blows and attack it for 60 minutes and see who comes out on top,” he said.
Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.