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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC men’s lacrosse wins with a trio of hat tricks

NCSU vigil
NCSU vigil

Starting attackmen Joey Sankey, Jimmy Bitter and Luke Goldstock each netted a hat trick against Furman. And then it happened again on Saturday, in UNC’s 20-8 win over Massachusetts (0-2).

Before this season, three starting attackmen for UNC hadn’t each recorded a hat trick since 2009 when Bitter’s brother Billy was part of the trio. Now it’s happened twice in three games to start the 2015 season.

Though it doesn’t matter who scores the goals for UNC, the achievement shows balance and offensive firepower.

“When we get into trouble offensively, it’s when everybody’s trying to make ‘The Play,’” Coach Joe Breschi said. “If we share the ball, opportunities are going to be abundant for everybody.”

Sankey had his way with UMass after just two points against High Point Tuesday. Sankey dodged, ducked and dipped his way to seven points, including four assists, both tying a career high.

On one restart after the ball went out of bounds, Sankey went solo, running from behind the goal to in front of it and whipping an underhanded shot in. He showed stick-to-it perseverance in the third quarter, stealing a pass from a UMass defender to the goalie in midair and popping it in the net in one motion.

Bitter did his work early, scoring three goals and notching two assists in the first 17 minutes.

The third weapon of the triumvirate, Goldstock, doesn’t have the pedigree the Sankey-Bitter duo has — both are tied for 10th on UNC’s all-time goals list — but he’s held his own so far this season. The sophomore has the third-most points in three games, just behind Bitter and Sankey.

“Luke’s a great player,” Sankey said. “He’s probably the most improved player from last year. He’s got a great shot. He has great vision. It’s nice when we can all get involved.”

Breschi praised Goldstock for knowing his role and fitting in with the two stars.

“He’s overshadowed a little bit by the Sankey-Bitter combination, who are so good, but I think Luke is every bit as good as top attackmen out there,” Breschi said. “Those guys are starting to play well together.”

The offensive balance against UMass wasn’t limited to just the attackmen. Seven other players scored goals, including a Peyton Klawinski hat trick and multiple goals from Chad Tutton and Duncan Hutchins.

Even defenseman Austin Pifani got in on the action. Early in the second half, Pifani scooped up a loose ball on defense with his long stick and pushed into the offensive zone. He kept running free, unstopped, and took the clear path straight to the goal and scored.

“I’m going to the cage every time if they’re not respecting me,” Pifani said.

The transition under new offensive coordinator David Metzbower has appeared to be smooth. Sankey and Bitter have continued their record-breaking pace and Goldstock has provided a new, legitimate scoring option.

“As an offense, we’re really clicking and getting better each week, which is the goal,” Sankey said. “We’ve really been focusing on keeping the ball hot, moving it. The flow has been really great this year.”

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