Goalkeeper Collin Krieg was exceptionally good in the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team's 16-4 win against Monmouth at Dorrance Field in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The best part about Krieg, though?
He’s only a first-year.
Krieg still has at least three more years wearing Carolina Blue, and after his performance on Saturday, the future in goal for the Tar Heels is looking bright. Krieg logged 15 saves and allowed just two goals before being taken out shortly after the start of the fourth quarter.
“Krieg’s been exceptional," head coach Joe Breschi said. "For a freshman to play the way he has in the daunting task of the ACC and now in his first NCAA game, he’s a special player and he’s got a great future.”
The goalkeeper played loose in the crease all game and dared to venture out of it multiple times after making saves to start the transition, and he chased after errant shots in an attempt to gain possession for UNC.
His style of play has been a defining characteristic all season. He plays every match like it's a backyard game with friends, running all over the defensive end of the field looking for a breakout pass.
“I just try to be relaxed, loose, have fun, just go out there and do my best,” Krieg said. “I work really hard in practice and during the week and go out there and let it loose in the game and do the best I can and see what happens.”
Krieg’s play in goal against the Hawks was certainly impressive, but it wasn’t even the most impressive thing a player from the UNC sideline did in the last 48 hours.
Graduate midfielder Justin Anderson became a father on Friday morning to a baby girl. He celebrated fatherhood by scoring the first goal of the NCAA Tournament just 25 seconds into the game, putting the Tar Heels on the board.
“I just felt super excited when I saw my teammates this morning; basically every single one of them came up and gave me a hug and just said congratulations,” Anderson said. “Just having that support, even if I was a little bit tired from not sleeping the past few days that much, and then getting out there and scoring the first goal, it was almost like a weight lifted off my shoulders that this was going to be a good game.”
The weight was lifted off the rest of the team, too, as the Tar Heels had a 4-0 lead after the first quarter. Senior attacker Chris Gray — a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, awarded to the nation's top college lacrosse player — added six points with four goals and two assists.
That gave Gray 83 points for the year, breaking Bruce Ledwith’s 48-year-old single-season school record for points.
“When you have that support on the defensive end, and you know they’re going to get the job done, it makes (the offense’s) job and our duties a little bit easier,” Anderson said.
The Tar Heels have won four consecutive games, all against teams that made the NCAA Tournament, and will look to carry that momentum into the second round. With Krieg's recent play in the crease, the Tar Heels look to be in good hands.
Oh, and good news, he’s only a first-year.