The No. 7 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team (4-0) continued its impressive start to the season with a standout 17-10 win over No. 15 Johns Hopkins (1-2) on Saturday at Homewood Field.
After conceding the first goal of the game to the Blue Jays, the Tar Heels were able to bounce back and reclaim a lead that Johns Hopkins wouldn't see again for the rest of the game. A hat trick in the first quarter for junior attackman Chris Gray helped UNC get its offense going.
Gray’s offensive production wouldn’t stop there, though. He finished the game with a career-high eight goals and threw in an assist.
The game remained tight throughout the first quarter, but a staunch defensive effort and a string of unanswered goals for the Tar Heels in the second quarter allowed them to create a more comfortable lead on the Blue Jays.
A goal early in the quarter by senior Tanner Cook sparked a four-goal scoring streak that would give North Carolina a 9-5 lead going into the half. Cook would finish the game with a hat trick and one assist.
Gray started off the second half with yet another goal to extend the Tar Heels’ lead even further. From then on, the combination of UNC’s defensive effort and the scoring separation proved insurmountable for the Blue Jays. From the midway point of the third quarter until the final buzzer sounded, the North Carolina lead wasn't cut to within five goals for the rest of the game.
Who stood out?
UNC's scoring efforts ended just as they began for the Tar Heels: with a goal by Gray. He had his fingerprints all over this game after scoring a career-high eight goals, almost half of the total scores from North Carolina.
In his first career game at Homewood Field in a North Carolina uniform, Gray scored at least one goal in each quarter of the game, and his first-quarter scoring outburst set the tone early for the Tar Heels. His nine points were just one shy of tying his career high for points in a game.
When was it decided?
The four consecutive goals to open the second quarter gave North Carolina the separation it needed to hold a relatively comfortable lead for the rest of the game. The Tar Heel defense was able to hold off the Blue Jays long enough for the offense to string together this run and close out the half strong.
Why does it matter?
After three blowout wins earlier this season, North Carolina looked to Johns Hopkins as its first real test against a ranked opponent to gauge how it measures up to some of the nation’s other top programs.
The 17 goals scored by UNC is its most ever in the program’s history against a Johns Hopkins team, and the record-breaking performance came on the Blue Jays' home field.
This win will surely turn heads in the next national rankings as the Tar Heels move to 4-0 on the season.
When do they play next?
North Carolina takes on No. 14 Denver on Sunday in Denver, Colorado, looking to notch another top-15 win.
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