Both the North Carolina men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are coming off successful 2010 campaigns, and both squads will begin the season ranked No. 3 in the country in the preseason polls.
But before they can begin their ACC and national championship pursuits, the Tar Heels had to first knock out the preseason competition in exhibition games.
The men played first, scrimmaging both Denver and Georgetown Saturday in Chapel Hill, but scores and stats weren’t officially recorded.
Both scrimmages were close, but coach Joe Breschi was much more focused on getting his young squad valuable playing time than he was on the final scores.
“The biggest thing for us is getting these freshmen experience,” Breschi said. “You can’t teach experience and for those guys to get out there and play in a game-like feel, I think that’s big.”
Freshmen will be key for the Tar Heels this season, as they add the No 1.-ranked recruiting class to a strong group of upperclassmen. UNC advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals but lost to eventual champions Duke 17-9.
Breschi expects that as many as 11 freshmen could see regular playing time on a team gunning for its first national title since 1991.
“It’s kind of like the basketball team,” Breschi said. “You figure out what you’re good at and what you need to maneuver and massage a little bit and gain experience as you go along.”
One thing the team had trouble with was face-offs, but with two freshmen taking a lot of draws, Breschi expects that to improve as the season continues.
“We got a long way to go from a standpoint of gaming experience,” Breschi said. “It’s going to be a game-by-game, week-to-week situation with a lot of young guys playing.”
The freshmen will face their first official competition when UNC hosts Robert Morris next Saturday.
Just like the men, the women prepared for the start of the 2011 season by participating in the South of the Border tournament on Sunday, which is jointly hosted by Duke and UNC.
At the tournament, the Tar Heels faced Villanova, Duke, Vanderbilt and Davidson in four shortened scrimmages.
Official scores were not kept, and coach Jenny Levy also focused on getting her less experienced players season-ready.
“We know what our starters can do,” Levy said. “Today’s more about the kids that were trying to get to the next level and what they can do. I was really happy with some of the efforts we saw out there.”
Levy said she was excited for the real competition to start for her team that went to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. The women’s team will host Florida next Saturday for the first game of the regular season.
“Preseason’s no fun,” Levy said. “You’re working hard day-in and day-out, so we’re looking forward to open up the season next weekend and play a good Florida team and see where we are.”
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