In the first round of the NCAA playoffs last year, the Denver Pioneers handed the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team a heartbreaking loss in front of a home crowd at Fetzer Field.
The loss still sits prominently in the minds of the current players — and this Sunday, when the Tar Heels take on Denver in a quarterfinal match-up in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, UNC is looking for revenge.
“Last year was a devastating loss,” senior captain Marcus Holman said. “They couldn’t have scripted it any better for us.”
Holman said both teams have changed since last year, but there is one important constant — the faceoff specialists.
Last year’s contest, in which junior R.G. Keenan faced off against Denver’s Chase Carraro, was the only time in the last two years when he failed to win double-digit faceoffs when given 20 or more opportunities.
“(Carraro) definitely got the better of me,” Keenan said. “He’s a very, very good athlete. If you do win the ball, he’s going to chase you down and make it harder for you to pick the ball up.”
In Denver’s first-round playoff game this year, Carraro proved to be the difference for Denver by winning 22 of 35 draws.
But Keenan did the same thing for UNC — winning 15 of 22 draws and scoring a goal in a 16-7 win against Lehigh.
Keenan said he’s not worried about his past performance against Carraro — instead, he’s focusing on his own game.