Eleven spots separated No. 12 North Carolina (8-3, 1-1 ACC) and No. 1 Johns Hopkins (8-1) in the polls, but Sunday night, the Tar Heels proved that rankings don’t tell the whole story.UNC
Though the rest of the country may be shocked by the giant-slaying Tar Heels, the team isn’t as surprised by the marquee win.
“We’re not going to back down from any opponent, no matter what the ranking. I think we’re proving that we can play with anyone in the country,” junior Marcus Holman said.
“I think everyone in this locker room isn’t really surprised (by the win) because of how hard we work and the guys that we have on this team.”
UNC’s win handed the Blue Jays their first loss of the season and gave UNC its first win against a top-ranked school since 1996.
Lacrosse may be a game of 60 minutes, but for UNC, 15 minutes proved the difference maker.
After entering the second quarter tied at four, UNC dealt a decisive blow to the Blue Jays by adding four unanswered goals in the quarter.
UNC used quick feet to sneak and cut past the defense in scoring its second-half goals. Holman kick-started UNC’s second-quarter scoring barrage after receiving a pass from Nicky Galasso to bury the ball from the right side.
The Tar Heels outshot Johns Hopkins 23-3 in the second quarter.
“We told our guys to attack, and then we did,” UNC coach Joe Breschi said. “We played with poise. We backed up our shots and got them to cage.”
Though the Blue Jays answered UNC’s second-quarter dominance with a 3-0 run in the third quarter, Johns Hopkins never found enough momentum to take the lead away from the Tar Heels.
Breschi’s young group created trouble for the Blue Jays. Freshman Jimmy Bitter led with a hat trick while Chad Tutton and Joey Sankey each added a goal.
“Jimmy had three today, and last week it was Joey Sankey,” Breschi said. “We’ve really worked hard on chemistry, and it’s pretty clear that these two freshmen have really stood out with Nicky Galasso not being 100 percent.”
R.G. Keenan catalyzed the Tar Heels from the face-off X, winning 18-of-25 face-offs. Keenan gained an advantage by muscling the ball away from the opposition and into the hands of his offensively hungry teammates.
Breschi credits this win to all 46 Tar Heels, as the team-oriented players were the difference maker in the game.
“I think it’s a product of guys playing unselfishly and making that extra pass,” Holman added. “We were fortunate enough to finish with 13 scores today.”
Despite a slow start with disappointing losses early in the season, the Tar Heels are determined to turn things around with the key win against Maryland and now the upset defeat of Johns Hopkins.
“(The win) means so much. We’re back. We had a rough patch against Lehigh and Penn, but we know how we can play. And we proved that we can play with anybody and beat anybody,” Keenan said.
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