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The Daily Tar Heel

Unselfish play helps UNC men's lacrosse defeat No. 13 Johns Hopkins

Senior attackman Nicky Soloman (8) attacks from behind in the Feb. 27 men's lacrosse game against Johns Hopkins University. UNC won 15-9.

To reach his 19th goal in just five games, graduate attacker Chris Gray recorded seven goals in a win against No. 13 Johns Hopkins to help give the Tar Heels their first win against a ranked team.

While Gray — who was recently named USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Player of the Year — led the match in points, he made sure it was known that the credit went to the entire team and not just himself.

“The best part about our offense is that each game, it's a different guy,” Gray said. “Last game, that was Jacob (Kelly). This game, it happened to be me, but really just a great, great job by the (midfielders), dodging hard and just giving the attack easy shots. So really, all credit to our midfielders."

Proving why they’re one of the best attacking fronts in the nation, Gray worked with senior attackmen Kelly and Nicky Solomon to help the Tar Heels tie the total for most goals in a game in the early season on Sunday.

Solomon, who led North Carolina in assists with three, also emphasized the efforts of the team over his own.

“From the top down I think we trust good matches, schemes, and luckily, I was the guy feeding the guys today,” Solomon said. “Our face-off guys also played a hell of a game. Most of my assists were off a fast break coming from them, or just coming from transition. So just from the top down, I thought we played hard today. I was lucky to finish them.”

Gray and Solomon combined for 15 points, including two goals in which they assisted one another.

After falling to Ohio State just a week ago, this offense clearly has been able to recover and build for the difficult challenges that lie ahead, including an upcoming weekend matchup against No. 20 Denver and a March 10 matchup against the reigning national champions, No. 2 Virginia.

“I think you just have to trust the offense and how it works,” Solomon said. “Just give space to other people and just keep doing what we're doing with the ball, which is being unselfish. That's how we're going to win games this year.”

In his 14th season as head coach for North Carolina, Joe Breschi had nothing but praise for the performance Gray and Solomon — both on the field and how they conduct themselves in the locker room.

He also spoke about their ability to balance a new-look midfield unit.

“I think (Gray), Solomon and Kelly have done a great job of just settling the midfield, I can't stress that enough,” Breschi said. “When you lose your top five midfielders from a year ago, and now you have new faces there, albeit all different classes, it's not easy.”

Yet even with the outstanding performance all around, Breschi couldn’t help but highlight the monstrous impact that Gray has had on this team throughout his career with North Carolina.

“He's just a ridiculous talent, but he's so humble,” Breschi said. “He talks about his teammates and he takes what's there. He's just like a ridiculously nice kid and a great leader."

As the Tar Heels prepare for the upcoming test against Denver, fans should hope to see North Carolina’s offense dominate again with Gray at the helm to continue his commanding season.


@dthsports |

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