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No. 10 UNC men's lacrosse runs away from No. 13 Johns Hopkins in 15-10 win

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UNC graduate attackman Chris Gray (4) looks for an open pass during a men's lacrosse game on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, against Johns Hopkins University.

The No. 10 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team (4-1, 0-0 ACC) used a second half surge to defeat No.13 Johns Hopkins (3-2, 0-0 Big Ten) 15-10 at Dorrance Field. 

What happened?

Since 2016, the home team has won the last six times in this series. The Tar Heels came into the game fresh off a 14-11 win over Brown on Wednesday afternoon. 

As for the Blue Jays, they came into Dorrance Field coming off their 1,000 win in program history defeating Loyola Maryland 11-10 last Saturday — becoming the first program to reach this milestone.

In a game that saw rainy skies, the Tar Heels and Blue Jays did not disappoint. Although the temperature in Chapel Hill was 44 degrees at faceoff with players slipping, there was a summer lacrosse feel — shooting the ball at all costs and a game of runs. 

On the first offensive possession, junior attackman Lance Tillman came in from the box, running north to south down the right alley and scored 31 seconds into the game. After a huge defensive stop on Johns Hopkins' first offensive series, Tillman found graduate attackman Chris Gray to go up 2-0. 

After a balanced rest of the first quarter, each team put in goals with UNC going up 4-2. As the second quarter got underway, Gray found senior attackman Jacob Kelly to extend the Tar Heels' lead 5-2. 

Less than two and a half minutes later, Johns Hopkins put in three straight goals to tie the game at five goals apiece. Fifty seconds later, North Carolina got two quick goals from Gray and senior attackman Nicky Solomon to go up 7-5. By halftime, UNC led 9-6, as 49 shots were fired between the two teams.

In the third quarter, UNC outscored Johns Hopkins 3-0 in the third quarter to go up 12-6. Early in the fourth quarter, the Tar Heels used their momentum to surge even further ahead, 14-6.  

The Tar Heels ride was on full display starting with Gray, Solomon, and Kelly. Then, as the Blue Jays struggled to get the ball past midfield, UNC’s midfielders rode to strip the ball away. The Tar Heels capitalized off the Blue Jays mistakes and turned mistakes into points. 

With a comfortable lead, UNC rode to a 15-10 victory.

Who stood out? 

UNC's senior face-off midfielder Zac Tucci won 12 faceoffs on the day, helping the Tar Heels maintain possession. On the offensive side, the Tar Heels prolific trio of Gray, Solomon and Kelly combined for 12 of the team's 15 goals.

For the Blue Jays, Joey Epstein led the way with four goals. Goalkeeper Josh Kirson had 20 saves. 

When was it decided?

In the third quarter, the Tar Heels' 3-0 run was enough to put the team up by six, which put the game out of reach. This was only the second time the Blue Jays were shut out in a quarter this season. Back on Feb. 13, Georgetown defeated 16-8, when Johns Hopkins was shut out in the second quarter. 

Why does it matter?

On paper, this was the first highlighted “big-time game” for the Tar Heels against a ranked opponent. This brings momentum to the Tar Heels, as they have five days of rest before taking on No. 16 Denver on Saturday.

For Johns Hopkins, they have played three big time teams including this one against the Tar Heels. The team drops to 3-2 on the year, and have its hardest game of the year next Saturday against No. 2 Virginia. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels return to action next Saturday against No. 14 Denver at Dorrance Field at 12 p.m. 

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@RileyKennedy25

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com