The No. 14 North Carolina lacrosse team cleared the bench and stormed Fetzer Field twice Saturday. Once was following the final horn on its 11-10 victory against No. 7 Maryland. The other time was for a fight.
With 40 seconds remaining in the game, UNC’s Greg McBride was drilled with a cross-check to the head by Maryland’s Kevin Cooper. McBride then tried to tackle Cooper as he got back to his feet, which escalated as the two began throwing punches.
Cooper threw McBride to the ground and landed two haymakers to McBride’s head before a host of Tar Heels knocked him to the ground.
“I was yelling my head off for the ball and as soon as I caught it I was ready to kill the clock, and I look up and half the field is sprinting over,” junior attackman Marcus Holman said. “All hell kind of broke loose. I don’t know how to describe it other than that.”
McBride and Cooper were both ejected from the game for fighting and five penalties were doled out, three of them on UNC.
“It’s unfortunate the way the game ended for sure,” coach Joe Breschi said. “Nobody, Maryland nor us, are proud of that fact.”
The fisticuffs overshadowed what was otherwise a high-level, fantastic game.
Goalkeeper Steven Rastivo made a save with three seconds on the clock to end a Maryland (5-2, 1-1 ACC) flurry to close the game.
The Terrapins scored after a failed clear following the fight that pulled them within one. Goran Murray won the ensuing faceoff and Maryland had another chance to score with a man-advantage stemming from the penalties.
“It was a transition play. It was four-on-three,” Rastivo said. “I’m not sure if the kid caught it or deflected it. I reacted and things went my way and it hit off my foot.”
Coming out in brand-new, all-black uniforms, UNC (7-3, 1-1 ACC) stormed to a 3-0 lead to start the game. Maryland reclaimed control after that, making an 8-3 run behind a hat trick by Billy Gribbin.
Maryland held a two-goal lead early in the fourth quarter. But R.G. Keenan won six of eight faceoffs in the final quarter and the Tar Heels netted five goals to get the win.
“It says a tremendous amount for us to battle back and just the way we kept fighting,” Breschi said. “These guys refuse to lose, and I think they did a heck of a job just continuing to battle and sticking to the details.”
Heavy rains led to a lot of slipping and turnovers as players found it hard to get their footing. That didn’t stop the two teams from playing an emotional, physical game.
“I could feel (the emotion) on the sidelines when I wasn’t out there,” said Thomas Wood, who scored two goals. “That was awesome. That was ACC lacrosse right there. That’s what it takes to get a win; we have to fight and scrap to the last second to get that victory.”
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