In a game of momentum, the No. 2 UNC men’s lacrosse team (3-0) held off High Point for a 17-15 win on Tuesday in the first of two February meetings between the teams. The Tar Heels' original match for that day against Bellarmine was postponed due to COVID-19 problems within Bellarmine's program.
The game was filled with runs by both teams.
Early in the first quarter, High Point capitalized on the UNC's inability to make shots by jumping out to an early 4-1 lead. The Tar Heels would then go on a run themselves, reeling off two quick goals in a matter of five in-game seconds, capped off with a score by junior attackman Brian Cameron off a faceoff.
The Tar Heels carried the momentum over into the second quarter, outscoring the Panthers 8-2, making the score 11-7 in favor of UNC. Their dominance on faceoffs in the first half — 17 wins compared to three by High Point — and the time of possession stifled the Panthers’ ability to score.
North Carolina once again took its momentum into the second half beginning with a 4-0 run to bring the lead to 15-7. With the game trending towards a blowout, High Point knew iy desperately needed a spark, and that spark was realized when the Panthers went on a big run to end the third quarter. Taking advantage of the Tar Heels’ sloppiness, the Panthers reeled off a frenzy of six straight goals to bring the score to 15-13 going into the fourth quarter.
In what could’ve been a gigantic collapse, UNC instead took back momentum in the fourth period with two quick goals by senior attackman Alex Trippi and senior midfielder William Perry, respectively. That would ultimately prove to be just enough for North Carolina, as a late surge by the Panthers proved too little, too late.
Who stood out?
While senior attackman Chris Gray, who has won ACC Player of the Week already twice this season, continued his impressive season with three goals and four assists, it was face-off midfielders sophomore Andrew Tyeryar and junior Zac Tucci that allowed the Tar Heels to stay aggressive all game. The two face-off midfielders combined to win 30 out of 35 faceoffs.
“We had 67 shots,” head coach Joe Breschi said. “That is a season high, and maybe a high for quite some time, and we generated a lot of opportunities because we had possession off the faceoffs.”
When was it decided?
With 12 minutes left, the game once again looked out of reach. The Tar Heels were up 17-13, and it seemed as if they had all of the momentum again. Even after a late goal combined with an assist by High Point’s Asher Nolting, UNC was able to hold off any chance of a comeback.
Why does it matter?
The Heels continue the recent trend of hot starts to begin a season. Last season, the team won its first seven games before the season was shut down, and North Carolina is once again on pace to match that again this season after a 3-0 start.
Both the Tar Heels and Panthers were also on short notice when the game was scheduled, so the fact that there was a hard-fought matchup showed each program’s flexibility and preparation.
“At the end of the day, we have the utmost respect for them, their program, and their coaching staff,” Breschi said.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Virginia to face Richmond on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m.
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