“You dream about playing college lacrosse and now the first game is at the place that got you where you got to go," Solomon said. "It’s pretty cool.”
UNC kept the momentum going as six different Tar Heels scored in the first quarter. It was an offensive showing characterized by constant ball movement and unselfish play.
With shortly more than five minutes left in the half, Timmy Kelly scored his second goal of the game as the Tar Heels started piling on to their six-goal lead. By the end of the first half, the Tar Heels led, 11-3.
A visibly-frustrated Mercer team struggled to get much of anything going in the second half. UNC’s explosive offense continued to find success, even after the Bears changed goalies. Mercer never rallied, and UNC strutted away with a 20-9 win.
Who stood out?
Junior midfielder Justin Anderson led the team in scoring with three goals. He also recovered four ground balls, which was tied for most on the team.
Prior to Saturday’s matchup, Anderson was elected team co-captain alongside Timmy Kelly. His leadership showed throughout the explosive offensive display. Anderson’s dedication to and praise for his teammates didn’t end when he walked off the field.
“The only thing I can contribute my goals to were the other guys on the field,” Anderson said. “And I thought we moved the ball awesome on offense today.”
Twelve different Tar Heels scored in Saturday’s matchup, which shows just how much those on the team trust one another and move the ball around.
“We’re pretty darn deep offensively,” head coach Joe Breschi said. “We’ve got to share the ball. ‘Share’ is the big word. If we do that, anyone can come away with points."
When was it decided?
Hometown hero Solomon scored the first goal of his UNC career with 5:18 left in the first quarter, and the Tar Heels scored two more in almost automatic fashion to take a 6-0 lead. It was the first time in the game that UNC’s lead felt crushing, and the Tar Heels never looked back.
Why does it matter?
The 2018 season marked the first time in Breschi’s 10 years with UNC that the Tar Heels missed the NCAA Tournament. The new season provides a clean slate for the Tar Heels to return to national relevance in the lacrosse world. Saturday’s win against Mercer provides the Tar Heels with a first win in their comeback campaign.
When do they play next?
UNC will return home to Chapel Hill for its home opener against the Furman Paladins at noon on Saturday, Feb. 9th. Last season the Tar Heels narrowly escaped with an overtime win against the Paladins in one of their most exciting games of the year.
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