The No. 2 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team (6-0) continued its undefeated streak with a 16-8 win over Mercer (2-4) on Saturday, the Tar Heels' last game before beginning conference play later this week.
The Tar Heels scored the game's first three points early on in the first quarter, establishing a lead they held throughout the entire game. Mercer attempted to tie the score later in the quarter, but senior midfielder Tanner Cook scored off an assist from senior attackman Chris Gray. This brought the score to 5-3, UNC.
Cook began the second quarter with another score assisted by Gray, bringing the score to 6-3. Mercer’s Collin Stewart scored for the Bears, bringing them closer to UNC. UNC worked on solidifying their lead for the rest of the quarter, adding four more points to their score. Three of these came from Gray, en route to tying his career-high in-game point total of 10.
“He’s all of 5’7” and he plays like he’s 6’5”,” head coach Joe Breschi said about Gray. “He did a great job of controlling us offensively and really stepping up when we needed him.”
North Carolina dominated the rest of the game, scoring five goals in the third quarter and two in the fourth. Starting in the third quarter, Mercer never came within five points of UNC. The Tar Heels secured the victory with a score of 16-8, continuing their perfect 6-0 start to the season.
“Overall it was a workman-type day,” Breschi said. “It just felt like a grind. Nothing was easy, but that’s OK, because with our schedule moving forward nothing is going to be easy.”
Who stood out?
Gray tied for his career-high total points in this game, and it was noticeable. Gray scored 10 points for the Tar Heels, including six goals and four assists.
“Chris Gray was sensational,” Breschi said. “He just has a knack for making it look easy. He plays at a great speed, a great level.”
Another standout performance came from junior face-off midfielder Zac Tucci, who won 11 of 15 face-offs.
“I was pleased with Zac Tucci at the face-off,” Breschi said. “Their guy is one of the best in the country and he (Zac) did a great job at 11-15.”
When was it decided?
North Carolina held the lead for the entire game, and Mercer never managed to tie the score. The Tar Heels secured their lead in the third quarter, keeping Mercer at least five points away for the rest of the game.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels have stayed undefeated so far, but they plunge into conference play later this week with a game against Virginia..
“We’ve got to do the little things really well,” Breschi said. “You’re gonna get opportunities, and against Virginia you can’t waste them.”
When do they play next?
North Carolina will kick off its ACC season against Virginia this Thursday, March 11 at 7 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va.
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