The North Carolina men’s lacrosse team attempted to work out the kinks on Saturday but lost to Navy 11-8 in the team’s final pre-season scrimmage.
UNC started out strong in the first quarter, rushing out to a 5-1 lead with goals from five different players, before Navy snuck a goal back to make it 5-2 heading into the second quarter.
That’s when things went down hill for the Tar Heels. Navy whipped off four straight goals early in the quarter to wrestle control away from UNC. Simultaneously, UNC stalled on the offensive end, in part due to several Tar Heel turnovers, but also because of some top keeping by Navy goalie Ryan Kern. Midshipmen attacker Jack Ray topped it off with his fifth goal of the half just before the horn to give Navy a 7-5 lead heading into the half.
The third quarter was a defensive battle, with Kern and UNC first-year goalie Jack Pezzula performing well in the crease, both only allowing one goal in the period. UNC was killed in ground balls, however, reducing their chances in the period.
The fourth quarter started out strong for Navy, with two quick goals, but UNC quickly responded to bring the game within two goals with about five minutes left. Top notch goalie work from Kern, however, denied the Tar Heels down the stretch, as they couldn’t put the game within reach.
Who stood out?
First-year midfielder Justin Anderson impressed head coach Joe Breschi in the final scrimmage of the preseason. He had two goals on the day and was an active part of the offense.
Senior midfielder Stephen Kelly was excellent, dominating Navy down the stretch in winning faceoffs while also snagging an assist in the scrimmage. Breschi also noted Kelly’s groundball work was impressive down the stretch, as he snagged nearly half of the team’s groundballs in the game.
Junior attackman Chris Cloutier was solid up front for the Tar Heels, scoring a goal and assisting on another off a turnover.
When was it decided?
UNC scored two goals in quick succession midway through the fourth quarter. Senior Peyton Klawinski scored in the upper reaches of net to pull UNC within three, and sophomore Andy Matthews quickly followed up with his second goal of the game after a faceoff, getting the dish from Kelly to slot it home to make it a two-goal game with just over five minutes left.
Navy responded well, however, getting the ball to the 6-foot-6 Ray for his sixth goal of the game to put the game out of reach for the Tar Heels as the clock ran down.
Why does it matter?
Breschi said he was overall pleased with his team’s effort on both sides of the ball. He thought they defended well, outside of guarding Ray, and got good chances on offense — outshooting the Midshipmen by 12.
But, strong defense that altered shots and goalkeeping by Navy kept them in check down the stretch.
Certain elements concerned Breschi, including the team’s groundball deficit and the number of turnovers. This was partly chalked up to UNC working in some new pieces on offense that haven’t fully gelled with the defending national champions.
Fortunately for the Tar Heels, they have a week of practice to patch up the rough edges before their season opener.
When do they play next?
UNC begins the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 4 at home against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County at 3 p.m.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.