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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 12 UNC men's lacrosse drops final rehearsal before start of regular season

Tanner Cook Furman

Midfielder Tanner Cook (77) celebrates a goal against Furman on Feb. 10 in Kenan Stadium.

In the team’s final dress rehearsal before the start of the regular season, the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team fell to Loyola Maryland, 15-10, on Saturday afternoon in Kenan Memorial Stadium.

The scrimmage featured two teams in the preseason top 25, according to U.S. Lacrosse Magazine — Loyola Maryland at No. 6 and North Carolina at No. 12.

What happened?

Within the first two minutes of play, Tar Heel senior attackman Timmy Kelly struck nylon first. But his team’s first and final lead didn’t last long.

By the 9:41 mark, Loyola’s Pat Spencer had already knocked in a pair of goals. He then assisted on his team’s third unanswered goal before North Carolina’s Tanner Cook knocked in a goal to stop the bleeding.

Loyola’s Spencer and sophomore attackman Kevin Lindley — who finished the game with a team-high eight goals — finished the first half combined for six goals and five assists and headed into halftime up, 9-4.

Despite opening up the second half with a goal, the Greyhounds extended their lead in the second half, again behind dominant performances from Spencer and Lindley. 

Loyola entered the fourth quarter up, 14-6, and cruised to a win.

Who stood out?

In the first half, Cook kept the Tar Heels in the game. He had a hand in three of North Carolina’s four first-half goals, finishing the contest with one goal and two assists.

His efforts weren’t enough to upstage the talented top-10 team from Maryland, though. 

Loyola Maryland, after making an Elite Eight appearance last season, was named as the 2019 preseason favorite to win the Patriot League conference. On Saturday afternoon, the Greyhounds were led by Spencer — a senior attackman and three-time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year.

Head coach Joe Breschi said Spencer was the best player on the field on Saturday afternoon.

“As we know, he’s sensational,” Breschi said. “(In scrimmages), you can go out and play your scheme, and the next time you see him, you make those adjustments.”

Why does it matter?

The last time UNC matched up with Loyola Maryland, there was more at stake. In the matchup, the Tar Heels defeated the Greyhounds in the 2016 Final Four before going on to win the national championship.

Three years later, on Saturday afternoon, Loyola Maryland seemed more polished before the start of the season.

“To cause seven turnovers against a team like that, I think that’s pretty good,” Breschi said. “And our clearing game was 17 of 17. So special teams seemed to do pretty well, but at the end of the day, both ends have to clean up.”

When do they play next?

North Carolina opens up regular season play against Mercer on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Atlanta.

The UNC athletics department provided unofficial statistics for this story.

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