The No. 7 Tar Heels had outclassed opponents, winning both contests by a combined margin of 34-16. Even with a younger team, UNC had shown promise.
But the team’s inexperience was evident Saturday at Fetzer Field, as the Tar Heels (2-1) fell 10-5 to Hofstra (1-0). UNC tallied 16 turnovers after combining for 22 in its first two contests.
“We knew coming into this season that we had some young guys,” Coach Joe Breschi said. “Some new guys in different places on the field, too, trying to find out who we are and who we’re going to be. We found out a little bit of our youth today.”
The team’s new-look offense could never find its footing after falling behind early. Junior Luke Goldstock — UNC’s leading goal scorer in 2015 — registered just one goal and an assist in the loss.
“I don’t think our sticks were really there today. We dropped a lot of balls,” Goldstock said. “I definitely didn’t play well. I let the team down.”
Lacking production offensively, UNC needed a strong defensive performance to keep the game close. Hofstra’s 35 shots pressured the Tar Heels’ defense, which had allowed 48 shot attempts the entire season.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Brian Balkam said the lack of scoring affected the defense’s mindset.
“When the offense is struggling, it definitely puts a little bit of extra pressure on the defense because you feel like you kind of got to make up for any of their mistakes,” Balkam said.
Breschi credited Hofstra’s defense for disrupting his team’s flow.
“I felt their defense played very well. We got to continue to search for answers offensively,” he said. “This is really the first time we kind of got out of sync.”
Just three games into the season, UNC will continue to look to gain experience for its younger players and work to become more comfortable in its offensive and defensive sets.
“We just got to keep working every day during practice to kind of get our sticks right and get that chemistry between each guy to the point where we can move the ball around very quickly, knowing that we’ll get a goal on the other side, too,” Goldstock said.
For a young team, a loss can either help or hinder progress depending on how players react. Balkam chose to take the loss in stride.
“It’s a long season,” he said. “It’s only February. It’s only going to get better from here.”