The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Men's lacrosse defeats Furman 19-3 in opener

Before the No. 3 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team headed down to South Carolina to take on Furman in its season opener, coach Joe Breschi said it would take a group effort to replace the numbers and leadership Marcus Holman produced in 2013.

And with a group effort like the one Breschi was describing, the Tar Heels lit up an outmatched first-year Furman team to start their season 1-0 with a 19-3 victory, playing every healthy player on their roster.

“Collectively it was a great team effort and a great team win,” Breschi said. “They all kind of stepped up and made plays when they had the opportunity.”

With 14 different scorers, the Tar Heels proved that every player on the offensive end of the field is a threat to score.

Though 10 of UNC’s 19 goals went unassisted, the relatively even mix between assisted and unassisted goals revealed the versatility UNC hopes to use to its advantage as the team takes on tougher opponents later this season.

“We’re going to get a lot of production this year from a lot of players,” said junior attackman Joey Sankey, who led the team with a hat trick. “That’s what we’re expecting and I think that’s what happened.”

As opposed to last season, the Tar Heels debuted a new look to their offense by having increased drives from midfielders like Chad Tutton and Steve Pontrello instead of leaning on attackmen to quarterback offense.

And with Furman bringing slow double teams, that meant a lot of goals for UNC midfielders — 11 to be exact.

“We have a really good midfield line and each one of them is a threat,” Sankey said. “(They) kind of carried the load a little bit. It was definitely different (from last year).”

The team performance wasn’t just on the offensive end of the ball. By pressuring Furman’s lethargic offense into 16 turnovers and snagging 34 ground balls, the Tar Heels held Furman to three goals. Last season’s strongest defensive effort by the Tar Heels still allowed five goals.

“Obviously it’s great to only (give up) three goals,” senior captain Ryan Creighton said. “But it’s more important that we stuck to the scheme and stayed disciplined within our scheme.

“No one person did too much.”

While the Paladins tried to keep the ball out of the hands of UNC’s offense by slowing the pace of the game when they got the ball, Creighton said that the defense was able to respond appropriately and get the ball to an offense that was both efficient and productive on the day.

By the end of the game, a number of Tar Heels had scored goals, vacuumed up ground balls, caused turnovers and, simply put, made plays.

And that’s something the Tar Heels know needs to continue if they want to achieve the high expectations left by last season’s success.

“That’s a good thing,” Sankey said. “Because you never know who’s going to be that guy.”

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.