Games on Senior Night are supposed to be about showcasing the senior members of a team, but in No. 5 North Carolina’s (11-5) 19-5 rout of Michigan (1-13), a junior stole the spotlight.
Attack Marcus Holman was the fire behind UNC’s offense, scoring 10 points off six goals and four assists. Holman’s offensive explosion set a new career high for points scored in a game. His 10 points were the most scored by a Tar Heel since 1997. But Holman was quick to point out that his teammates were instrumental in his individual accomplishments.
“My teammates were doing a great job pushing it in the outside all day, taking opportunities when they presented themselves,” Holman said. “I was just lucky enough to be the recipient of a few good passes and I was fortunate enough to bury a few good shots.”
Holman’s career day was only one factor in UNC’s demolition of a Michigan team in its inaugural year as a varsity program.
Though tied 2-2 early in the first quarter, the Tar Heels quickly turned things around and emerged as the stronger team in the second and third quarters. Behind a 7-0 run spanning three different quarters, UNC gradually distanced itself from the Wolverines.
“I think we just kind of wanted to get in the groove a little bit and just play hard,” UNC coach Joe Breschi said. “I thought we played hard all day and I think we gave up some early goals that were unlike us. But we bounced back and started to settle in.”
Thirteen different Tar Heels netted goals. As a whole, the team took 53 shots to the Wolverine’s 20.
Breschi attributes UNC’s offensive success to the quick sliding of Michigan’s defense.
“The more teams slide against us, the more opportunities we’re going to have,” Breschi said. “We did a good job of moving the ball and playing unselfish lacrosse, which allowed us lay-up opportunities.”
The strength of UNC’s offense can be found on the scoreboard, but the defense was also instrumental in controlling the game.
The Tar Heels earned nearly double the number of groundballs as Michigan and limited turnovers, only giving the ball away 10 times. Michigan had 18 turnovers for the game.
“They have a different kind of offense that we practiced all week,” senior defenseman Mark Staines said. “Our scout guys, Sean Taylor, Stevie Kirkup and Mark McNeill did an awesome job all week getting us ready. I think we were pretty well prepared for it.”
Junior Steven Rastivo set the defensive tempo from the goal, saving shots early in the game. In the second half, senior goalie Matt Holman replaced Rastivo for his final regular season game as a Tar Heel. It was also the last regular season game for nine other senior Tar Heels.
“We just wanted to get off to a good start and send our seniors off the right way,” the younger Holman said. “I was glad that my brother, Matt (Holman), got to get into the cage at the end of the game, so that was exciting.”
With the regular season in the books, UNC now looks to the NCAA tournament, beginning next weekend. The Tar Heels are expected to receive an at large bid Sunday night with the possibility of hosting a first round game.
“We know that it’s a new season next week,” Holman said. “Hopefully we can get a home game, if not, we’re excited for the challenge of wherever we’re going to play.”
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