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Monday December 5th

In inaugural game at UNC Lacrosse Stadium, No. 20 UNC men's lacrosse defeated, 12-10

Midfielder William Perry (3) runs down the field during the game against Johns Hopkins in Kenan Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. UNC lost 10-11.
Buy Photos Midfielder William Perry (3) runs down the field during the game against Johns Hopkins in Kenan Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. UNC lost 10-11.

On Saturday morning, the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team saw its inaugural game in a brand new stadium spoiled.

The No. 8 Denver Pioneers took down the No. 20 Tar Heels in a back-and-forth 12-10 victory. Denver used a combination of excellent defense and timely runs to hand North Carolina (3-2) a loss in the first ever game played in UNC Lacrosse Stadium.

What happened?

The teams traded miniature runs in the first quarter. With the scored tied at 1-1, Denver rattled off two consecutive goals in a little over a minute. North Carolina responded, however, with a 2-0 run of its owns. Goals from senior Jack Rowlett and first-year Nicky Solomon tied the game at 3-3 after one quarter.

North Carolina pushed ahead in the second quarter, outscoring Denver, 3-1. Junior William Perry scored at the 14:10 mark. For the next 11 minutes or so, neither team could get anything going. In the last three minutes, though, UNC added two more goals to its lead — from junior Justin Anderson and first-year Brian Cameron, who scored with 10 seconds left in the half.

Denver (4-1) got its only second-quarter goal at the 4:54 mark, and UNC led 6-4 at the half.

The third quarter saw Denver erase its two-goal halftime deficit just minutes in. And the Pioneers outscored UNC 5-3 in that quarter. But two goals from Perry and one from Solomon kept things tied at 9-9 as the fourth quarter began.

The Tar Heels, then, began to unravel. Denver’s Colton Jackson scored two consecutive unassisted goals to give his team an 11-9 lead. The second of those two prompted UNC head coach Joe Breschi to make a goalie change — senior Alex Bassil came in for junior Jack Pezzulla.

Soon after he subbed in, Bassil made an error that would be the dagger. With a little over seven minutes remaining, and his team down by two, Bassil had possession right in front of UNC’s goal. When he tried to pass, Denver’s Ethan Walker swarmed him, snagging the ball out of the air and scoring another one for the Pioneers.

North Carolina pressured consistently from that point forward and forced a few turnovers. But the Tar Heels only added one more goal, from Perry, in the 12-10 loss.

Who stood out?

Alex Ready, Denver’s senior goalie, was a standout all game. He played the entire game and recorded 11 saves, many of them from close range. His 52.4 save percentage was a stark contrast to that of UNC goalies, who combined for seven saves and a 36.8 save percentage.

The Pioneers also got solid performances from Walker (four goals) and Austin French (five assists, one goal). Perry led North Carolina with four goals, and Solomon had two goals on five shots.

When was it decided?

UNC’s fourth quarter was poor yet manageable. But Bassil’s turnover did the Tar Heels in.

Once Walker netted a short-range goal, Denver took a 12-9 lead and killed any momentum North Carolina had. The Pioneers ended up outscoring the Tar Heels, 8-4, in the second half.

Why does it matter?

UNC, which started the season 3-0, has now lost consecutive games to Denver and Johns Hopkins.

This was also the first ever game played at UNC Lacrosse Stadium. The stadium, which replaced Fetzer Field, was under construction since the summer of 2017. It’ll be the longterm home of both soccer and lacrosse programs.

The stadium is yet to be named. Until that happens, it’ll be known as the UNC Lacrosse Stadium in the spring and the UNC Soccer Stadium in the fall.

When do they play next?

UNC continues a six-game homestand on Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m. The Tar Heels will host Marist, a private college in Poughkeepsie, New York. 

@chapelfowler

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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