At times last year, the Tar Heels’ attack depended on the individual skills of Jimmy Bitter, Joey Sankey and Chad Tutton to manufacture offense. The trio combined to tally 191 points in the form of 104 goals and 87 assists while playing their way to All-American selections.
But this year the attack’s strategy has changed.
“A lot has been talked about our team losing some superstars, which we did, but we’re at our best when the guys are all playing together,” Coach Joe Breschi said. “Instead of standing around watching the superstars play, everyone has to play.”
This season, the North Carolina attack’s game plan revolves around patience and balance instead of the sparks of individual brilliance that powered the 2015 team.
“We put in an offense and our job is to execute it,” said senior attackman Steve Pontrello. “It’s different from last year with those two studs Jimmy and Joey, so just sharing the ball on attack and listening to our coach is important.”
This fact was abundantly clear during Saturday’s 14-6 win against Furman at Fetzer Field. The Tar Heels (2-0) executed an unselfish style that led to seven players tallying goals and no single player scoring more than three times.
“The focus really isn’t on who is scoring the goals, it’s more just on our offense scoring,” said senior midfielder and team captain Patrick Kelly.
Balance isn’t the only thing Breschi has emphasized to his players this season. He also wants his team to be more systematic in the way it attacks, especially when it comes to shooting.
Instead of taking the first available shot, Breschi prefers his players to work the ball around in order to find the best opportunity to score.
“We’re focusing on being efficient and tuning our game as best we can,” Kelly said.
UNC showed the kind of efficiency their coach wants to see on Saturday, as 29 out of their 50 shots were on goal.
According to Breschi, North Carolina needs to keep up this balanced and meticulous attack if it wants to continue to have success this season.
“When we share the ball, we’re very good. When we don’t, we’re not very good,“ he said. “We can’t stray from what we know best which is sharing the ball and taking quality shots, not just the first shot.”