The North Carolina men’s lacrosse team entered Monday’s game against Manhattan looking to end its first regular-season losing streak since 2012.
After losing to Denver and Massachusetts in back-to-back games, seventeenth-ranked UNC (4-3) did just that by trouncing the Jaspers 18-2.
The Tar Heels came out of the gate with intensity and didn’t let up. After winning the opening faceoff, the UNC attack imposed its will on Manhattan’s defense, scoring six goals in the first quarter.
At the same time, the UNC defense suffocated the Jaspers (1-7), holding them without a shot for the first 11 minutes and 49 seconds of the game. Senior attackman Steve Pontrello scored three of his five goals during this stretch, helping the Tar Heels establish a commanding 6-1 lead.
A big factor in North Carolina's dominance was their performance on faceoffs. UNC won all of the faceoffs in the first half, preventing the Jaspers from possessing the ball for any long stretches of time.
The second quarter was almost identical to the first, as North Carolina continued to control the game. In the first half, Manhattan committed more turnovers (8) than it attempted shots (7), leading to a 14-1 halftime advantage for UNC.
The Tar Heels played a more patient style in the second half, maintaining control and earning an 18-2 victory.
North Carolina’s large second-half lead allowed for underclassmen to gain valuable game experience. First-year midfielder Jesse Cuccia played predominantly in the last two quarters, scoring the first goal of his career 50 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Additionally, redshirt first-year Eddie Gilman and first-year Colin Reder both shared goalkeeping duties in the second half, allowing only a single goal between them in 21:40 of play.
“I told them that there were seven regular season games left and that we need to treat every game like it’s our last game. I thought we played hard.” — Coach Joe Breschi on how he motivated his team before Monday’s game.
Twelve different players tallied a goal for UNC, the most in a single game so far this season.
Three numbers that matter
14: The Tar Heels scored 14 goals in the first half, the most of any half this season.
24: With his first-quarter goal, junior attackman Luke Goldstock extended his scoring streak to 24 games — the fourth-longest in school history.
20: North Carolina won 20 out of 22 faceoffs, good for a 90.9 percent win rate.
UNC takes on the Richmond Spiders at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Fetzer Field.
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