Thanks to a hat trick from junior midfielder Justin Anderson, the No. 14 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team outlasted Harvard, 16-11, in Kenan Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
For a moment — following two consecutive first quarter goals from first-year Henry Schertzinger, his first two goals of his career — UNC looked like it could put the game away early. The score at 3-1, the pair of goals seemed to turn an early tide.
The margin provided by the midfielder from Cincinnati’s first and second scores was closed by halftime, though, and Harvard ended up playing the Tar Heels close for most of the game.
But a team effort in a hard-fought, scrappy game kept North Carolina in control. Anderson, despite struggling early and only shooting 33 percent on the game, let the game come to him in the second half. He scored all three of his goals after the break, and he put the nail in the coffin with his open-net goal with 1:38 remaining to extend UNC’s lead, 15-11.
“I think more than anything we just tried to stay composed,” Anderson said postgame. “We knew our defense was going to play well. On the offensive end, we had to do a better job of taking our time, working it around and just being smart.”
The Tar Heels’ final goal came with 25 seconds remaining and cushioned their third straight win.
Who stood out?
The first-year midfielder who takes the face-offs for UNC, Zachary Tucci, may have scored his first point in his collegiate lacrosse career on Saturday (one assist) — but he’s been impactful since the season-opener. Tucci earned ACC Defensive Player of the Week last week, after putting in a career performance against Furman.
Coming into Saturday’s game, Tucci ranked 15th in faceoff percentage won, winning nearly 65 percent of all faceoffs.
Against Harvard, Tucci notched one assist and controlled 17 of 31 faceoffs throughout the game. His play earned him the praises of head coach Joe Breschi.
“He is so poised and composed, not only when he wins it, but just having the ball in his stick and having to make good decisions,” Breschi said after the game. “So I couldn't be happier for him, and as a freshman, making that kind of impact is something we're very pleased about.”
When was it decided?
Midway through the fourth quarter things began to unravel for Harvard. A goal from junior Tanner Cook with just under eight minutes remaining in the game extended the score’s margin to two. This was the first of three unanswered goals from North Carolina.
Justin Anderson provided the ultimate dagger when he scored his third goal of the game on an open net with 1:38 remaining.
Why does it matter?
With the win, the Tar Heels (3-0) extend their undefeated start to the season and handed Harvard (0-1) a season-opening loss. The game was the second of six consecutive home games for the Tar Heels — and can now be seen as a tune-up against next week’s matchup with No. 17 Johns Hopkins.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels welcome No. 17 Johns Hopkins on Saturday, Feb. 23, at noon in Chapel Hill.
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