The North Carolina men’s lacrosse team battled relentlessly against Notre Dame for 60 minutes, however, the Tar Heels’ fate was decided in five.
In what seemed to be a horrendous Deja Vu of the last year’s loss to Notre Dame at South Bend, Ind., the Tar Heel’s 11-10 defeat was the product of penalties. UNC committed seven fouls, tallying five minutes of man-down play, in which the Fighting Irish netted a four-goal comeback.
“I thought we played a terrific first half,” said coach Joe Breschi. “It started to slip at the end of the third quarter when we had multiple penalties called. Penalties in the third quarter changed the complexity of the game.”
After two periods of explosive Tar Heel offense, the scoreboard read 7-3 in UNC’s favor at halftime. But Notre Dame pushed North Carolina back on the toes in the third period, and UNC pushed back, literally.
“We just can’t foul, and they were man-up most of the second half,” said Breschi. “Our offense is explosive when we can get the ball, and I guess that was the most disappointing part because we put a lot of pressure on our defense.”
Notre Dame capitalized on four of their seven advantages, but UNC was not as fortuitous. Freshman attackman Luke Goldstock scored the only man-up goal in the ninth minute, and the Tar Heel’s other two opportunities went to waste.
Face-off failure also plagued the Tar Heels, who won only eight of 25 matches at the X.
“They scored on a couple of our turnovers, which we worked on all week,” said senior midfielder Ryan Creighton. “It’s not really acceptable, especially playing for Carolina and especially starting out the ACC, but we will learn from it and build on it. Notre Dame put a lot of pressure on our poles.”
Senior R..G Keenan, considered one of the top face-off men in UNC history, suffered an injury to his lower extremity and his formidable shoes were filled by the brother duo of Stephen and Frankie Kelly. But UNC was out-contested in almost every statistical facet, and the penalties and face-off issues stamped the loss.
“We knew exactly what they were going to do and they did exactly what we expected of them,” said junior attackman Jimmy Bitter. “I think we just didn’t execute towards the end of the game. They came out hungrier in the second half.”
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