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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 13 UNC men's lacrosse wins second straight OT game, 12-11, over Lehigh

Charles Kelly Lehigh

Junior midfielder Charles Kelly (26) faces off against Lehigh on Feb. 17 in Kenan Stadium.

The No. 13 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team squeaked out another overtime victory Saturday against unranked Lehigh 12-11.

What happened?

UNC (3-0) started the game strong with an unassisted goal from sophomore Justin Anderson, his third of the season. The goal came just 31 seconds into the first quarter, the same amount of time it took Anderson to give the Tar Heels their overtime win last Saturday against Furman.

The Mountain Hawks outworked North Carolina in the second quarter. They led the Tar Heels in ground balls (10-3) and faceoffs (4-3). Lehigh stifled UNC’s attack three possessions in a row, creating three turnovers.

The Tar Heels' cold streak snapped with seven seconds left in the half, when William Perry was able to put his team up just before the halftime horn. Lehigh’s dirty work seemed somewhat fruitless, as it still trailed North Carolina 8-7 at the half.

A chaotic third quarter ensued. Lehigh and UNC both had four turnovers. A nine-minute scoring drought by both teams finally ended when Lehigh’s Lucas Spence put away his second goal of the day to tie the game at 8-8.

The back-and-forth, rough-and-tumble style of play continued throughout the fourth quarter. Lehigh started the scoring off with Andrew Pettit’s third goal of the day, tying the game at 9.

The Tar Heels found themselves down a goal, 11-10, with just over three minutes on the clock. Junior Timmy Kelly put one away to tie the game and complete his own hat trick with 2:22 left in the game.

After the Tar Heels forced a Mountain Hawk turnover with 39 seconds on the clock, they lost the ball within 10 seconds, trying to get the ball out of their defensive half. Lehigh had the ball with 30 seconds to go and no shot clock.

They failed to put the game away, however, sending it into overtime for UNC’s second straight overtime game in a row.

Who stood out?

Charles Kelly is the Tar Heels' go-to faceoff man, taking all 26 on Saturday. He won four of six in the fourth quarter and the all-important, game-deciding faceoff in overtime.

Perry’s four clutch goals undoubtedly helped lead the Tar Heels to their third straight win this season. His second came at the end of the first half to give UNC the lead. And of course, his game-winning goal, 36 seconds into the sudden-victory period, was monstrous for his team.

When was it decided?

It was impossible to decisively say who would win this game at any point in regular time.

So many goals in this matchup were decided on faceoffs. Kelly’s faceoff to kick off overtime is most nearly the turning point of this game. After Kelly had secured possession, the Tar Heels called a timeout to draw up their final attack.

After drawing several Lehigh defenders on a lethal drive, senior Chris Cloutier dished the ball to Perry, who perfectly picked out the upper right-hand corner of the goal and ended the game.

Why does it matter?

These nail-bitingly close games are the ones that nurture growth. They build resilience and composure, and give younger players — which compose a sizeable share of the Tar Heel squad — an important sense of confidence.

These are also the kinds of games UNC lost last year. Early-season losses, like those to Hofstra and Richmond, by only two and one point, are the games that sew frustration and insecurity in a team.

This overtime win, and the one last week against Furman, are huge for a young team’s confidence.

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When do they play next?

The Tar Heels travel to Baltimore, Md., on Friday to take on No. 8 Johns Hopkins at 5 p.m.

@petrucci_daniel

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com