The No. 1 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team defeated Furman 7-3 on Saturday in Greenville, S.C. After a close first quarter, UNC outscored Furman 5-1 over the rest of the game.
North Carolina (2-0) had five turnovers in sloppy first quarter. First-year midfielder Justin Anderson and junior midfielder Brian Cannon both scored for the Tar Heels, but the Paladins (0-3) answered back twice. The teams were tied 2-2 after 15 minutes.
Chris Cloutier, a junior attackman and UNC’s savior in the 2016 National Championship, put his team back on top with a second-quarter goal to give the Tar Heels the lead.
After redshirt junior goalie Brian Balkam saved a point-blank Furman shot in the final two minutes, UNC doubled its lead with Anderson’s second goal of the game.
At the half, Furman goalie Alec Van de Bovenkamp had eight saves, and Balkman had seven. Senior midfielder Stephen Kelly won seven of eight first-half faceoffs, which helped UNC take a 4-2 lead into the break.
The third quarter remained scoreless for over 12 minutes until Cloutier recorded his second goal of the game. The Paladins called a timeout soon after, but couldn’t find any offense and entered the fourth trailing 5-2.
Furman’s William Holcomb broke his team’s scoring drought early in the fourth quarter — his goal narrowed UNC’s lead to 5-3.
About five minutes later, sophomore attackman Timmy Kelly responded with a goal to bring UNC’s lead to 6-3, and first-year midfielder William Perry added one more to put away Furman.
Who stood out?
Offensively, UNC was superior. Five Tar Heels scored in a balanced attack and North Carolina bested Furman in both shots (38-26) and shots on goal (23-15).
Bovenkamp helped Furman hang around with 16 saves, but UNC’s defensive pressure forced the Paladins to turn the ball over 14 times. Balkam also had 12 saves for the Tar Heels — one short of his career high.
When was it decided?
After Furman narrowed its deficit to 5-3 in the fourth quarter, UNC’s comfortable lead had been erased. Another goal by the Paladins would bring them within one of the defending national champions.
With just under 6 1/2 minutes to play, Timmy Kelly took a shot.
Bovenkamp saved it, but the ball ricocheted right back to Kelly. He quickly fired a second shot past Bovenkamp for his fourth goal of the season.
Furman’s deficit was three again, and the Paladins couldn’t recover.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina showed resilience after a lackluster first quarter. The offense and the defense both cleaned up their play and were dominant from that point on.
As the defending national champion, UNC will get the best game from each of its opponents. Although Furman made a late push, the Tar Heels made a run of their own to extinguish the comeback and remain undefeated.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will play Lehigh at Fetzer Field at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18.
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