A thrilling matchup between the No. 12 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team and No. 13 Johns Hopkins was not without its fair share of drama, but the battle-tested Tar Heels overcame a slow defensive start to win, 13-11.
Johns Hopkins grabbed control in the early going, scoring two goals in the first 90 seconds and leading 5-3 after one quarter. After a porous start, however, the Tar Heels would tighten up defensively, allowing just six goals in the next three quarters.
Sophomore Tanner Cook starred in the first half for North Carolina, scoring four goals and ensuring the game remained close in the early going. Additional goals by senior Chris Cloutier and junior Timmy Kelly allowed for a 6-6 tie at the half. Cook’s career day kept the Tar Heels afloat; it was Kelly, however, who would seal the game in the second half.
After an early fourth-quarter goal from junior Andy Matthews knotted the game at 9-9, Kelly caught fire, scoring three goals in a 3:02 stretch that allowed the Tar Heels to pull away for good.
Two quick Johns Hopkins goals cut the North Carolina lead to just one, but a goal from sophomore Justin Anderson at the 1:02 mark shredded hope for a Johns Hopkins comeback. Not to be forgotten was UNC sophomore goalie Jack Pezzulla, who recorded 13 saves.
Again, the Tar Heels’ ability to buckle down defensively after a rough first-quarter cannot be ignored. As the game rolled on, the team seemed noticeably more confident in its ability to get stops, leading to more opportunities for easy scores on the other end.
The UNC attack was also aided by sophomores William Perry and Justin Anderson, who chipped in with a goal apiece. Perry and Matthews also recorded two assists each.
With the win, North Carolina has now won five in a row against perennial powerhouse Johns Hopkins, including ten of the last twelve matchups. Looking ahead, the Tar Heels will look to remain perfect against Mercer on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Kenan Stadium.