After losing three of its last four games, the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team needed to turn things around — and fast.
Swells of energetic music from spring football practice immediately set the stage for UNC’s 13-10 win against Dartmouth.
“During the Star-Spangled Banner, I heard a little Young Jeezy in the background, so that was pretty new,” junior attackman Marcus Holman said. “I kind of felt like an NBA player a little bit, with the music and what not, Skrillex is banging in the background.”
Both teams jumped out of the gate quickly, wasting no time before attacking the cage. The adrenaline-infused shooting frenzy led to many missed shots in the first quarter. North Carolina only converted one of 11 shots while Dartmouth found the back of the net once out of eight tries.
“I think we wanted to come out flying. We started really slow in the Duke game … I thought we ended that game fast and we just wanted it to continue over,” Holman said. “It was important for us to come out fast and get a lot of guys touches and shots on the cage.”
After the initial deluge of missed shots, each team increased efficiency in the second quarter. But led by veterans Thomas Wood and Holman, UNC’s offense found more shooting opportunities in Dartmouth’s zone defense, outshooting the Big Green 22-8.
Wood finished the game with four goals and one assist. In addition to his one goal, Holman set a new career high with his five assists.
Holman spread the love offensively, helping four different teammates score. UNC finished the game with eight different players tallying goals and six dishing out assists.
The attackmen and midfielders were not solely responsible for the goals scored. Many of UNC’s goals were generated in transition off forced turnovers and strong play from the defense.
“I really credit the defense for getting the ball up and out,” UNC coach Joe Breschi said. “And certainly we have a go mentality once we get it over the midfield and get it to those quick little attackmen. They generated some opportunities for us.”
The Tar Heels further used transition offense to their advantage by limiting turnovers and eliminating the Big Green’s transition options. UNC committed a season-low seven turnovers while Dartmouth gave the ball away 17 times.
UNC also edged out the Big Green on groundballs, earning 37 to Dartmouth’s 34.
Though UNC led nearly the entire game, with the exception of the first quarter, Dartmouth was not content to let the clock wind down without a fight. In the second half, the Big Green outscored the Tar Heels 5-4 despite UNC’s 25-16 shooting edge.
“(Dartmouth is) scrappy and they keep fighting,” Breschi said. “They take advantage of the opportunities that you give them. They made some good shots as well. Some were some tricklers, but others were quality.”
For the Tar Heels, escaping Dartmouth’s rally warrants a large sigh of relief. The win gives UNC a boost of confidence needed before facing ACC foe Maryland on Saturday.
“It’s been a rough stretch here, but I think we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps today and got a good win,” Wood said. “We definitely needed it.”
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.