According to coach Joe Breschi , that’s not the case.
“These guys are focused,” he said after refusing to admit that any pressure exists. “It’s a mature group. They’ve really learned from mistakes early.”
While the Tar Heels aren’t exactly a senior-laden team as a whole, a strong presence of seniors on the defensive end has brought the Tar Heels to new heights this season, and they will need that defense to step up once more as they look to get their second conference win.
The Tar Heels are confident and feel as though they can play with the best of offenses six on six. They just need to limit transition offense and avoid giving Virginia’s highly touted man-up offense opportunities.
“We want the offense to get settled in,” senior Jordan Smith said. “That gives us an opportunity to match up, decide what they’re doing and sort of react and defend against that.”
Despite facing the likes of senior attackman Mark Cockerton and sophomore James Pannell , the UNC defense believes it can use a team-oriented approach to take on the seventh-ranked scoring offense in the nation that scores more than 13 goals a game.
“They’re going to make plays,” Smith said. “They’re going to get their shots, but we’re going to have the whole defense supporting everyone so no one’s going to get left on an island to defend these guys one on one.”
With breakout freshman face-off specialist Stephen Kelly still out due to injury, the Tar Heels will rely heavily on the likes of senior R.G. Keenan again as he is poised to get his second start at the X in two weeks.
While Keenan is still trying to get back into shape and into a rhythm, coming off an injury of his own, the Tar Heels may struggle to win a majority of the face-offs this weekend as they continue to approach the X with a by-committee mindset.
“I would assume that we’re going to use a couple face-off guys for sure,” Breschi said. “I’m excited to see (Keenan) play, but I also like the depth we have there as well.”
Now that the Tar Heels have hit crunch time, they don’t have time to worry about where the two one-goal losses hurt their conference resume. They are just looking to get the one win they need right now — the next one.
“Every game we just go out there and play it to win it,” Smith said. “We’re not looking at scenarios or standings or anything like that.”