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The Daily Tar Heel

North Carolina men’s lacrosse dominates Mercer, 14-7

Men's lacrosse Furman celebration 2

The North Carolina men's lacrosse team celebrates a goal against Furman on Feb. 10 in Kenan Stadium.

The No. 10 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team, fueled by an 8-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters, trounced the Mercer Bears, 14-7, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Kenan Stadium.

What happened? 

The Tar Heels (5-0) opened up the scoring nearly four minutes in with a goal by sophomore midfielder Tanner Cook for his 13th goal of the season.

Mercer responded less than two minutes later. After maintaining possession near North Carolina’s net for about a minute, senior midfielder Scott Baird found the back of the net to even the score at one apiece. 

It wouldn’t take long before the Tar Heels regained their lead. UNC gained a one-man advantage after a cross-checking penalty against Mercer with 4:44 remaining in the first quarter, and senior attackman Chris Cloutier took advantage of it. He buried his 12th goal of the season to give North Carolina a 2-1 lead.

North Carolina didn’t hesitate to further pile on. By 3:54 in the second quarter, the Tar Heels built a 9-1 lead after Cloutier scored his third goal of the half. Mercer ended the 8-0 run less than a minute after. The Bears cut their deficit to 9-2 on a goal by senior attackman Bryan Gibson and scored a second straight goal to cut the lead to six.

Cloutier added his fourth goal of the game just before halftime and North Carolina headed into the break with a 10-3 lead. The other six Tar Heel goals were evenly spread among the rest of the team.

The teams traded goals to open the second half, then the Tar Heels scored three in a row stretching into the fourth quarter — for the team's final goals of the game with the win already well in hand. 

To close out the game, Mercer scored three consecutive goals, only enough to cut the deficit to seven and UNC secured a 14-7 victory.

Who stood out?

Chris Cloutier was the undisputed leader for North Carolina in the win. The senior attackman scored four first half goals, helping his team take a seven goal advantage into halftime. In the second half, he added two more goals to bring his total to six goals — while no other player scored more than one goal in the win.

Wednesday’s victory marked Cloutier’s 25th consecutive game with a goal, now tied for the third best streak in UNC lacrosse history. It was also the most goals that he has scored in a game since he scored nine times in an NCAA Tournament game against Loyola. 

Two of Cloutier’s goal were assisted by Alex Trippi. In addition to leading the team in assists against Mercer, the first-year attackman scored his first goal as a Tar Heel. 

When was it decided?

The game was decided early on. Both sides traded goals to begin the game, but once North Carolina took a 2-1 lead, they never looked back. The Tar Heels rattled off eight consecutive goals to take a commanding lead.

Mercer cut the deficit to seven late in the game, but they couldn’t get any closer than that. 

Why does it matter?

UNC remains undefeated as they’ve now won 5 consecutive games in 2018. The 14-7 victory is tied for the Tar Heels largest victory of the season, and it comes after a three-game stretch in which the UNC had two overtime victories and a narrow two goal win.  

The victory kicked off a three-game home stand in which North Carolina hosts No. 5 Denver and St. John’s. The Tar Heels are proving to be a legitimate contender after an inconsistent 2017 season.

When do they play next?

UNC takes action next on Saturday, March 3, when they host the St. John’s Red Storm at 10:30 a.m. in Kenan Stadium. 

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