Beams of sunlight sparkled off the shiny argyle stripe on UNC men's lacrosse's brand new navy blue helmets, as the players prepared for the opening face-off on Dorrance Field. Senior face-off midfielder Zac Tucci approached Buckeye Justin Inacio at the midfield line and lined up his stick parallel to Inacio’s.
The No. 4 Tar Heels hadn’t seen those bright red Buckeye jerseys on the other side of the field at a regular-season game in 11 years, but were all too familiar with the program’s play.
UNC travels every year to Columbus, Ohio to play fall ball with OSU, in tribute to UNC head coach Joe Breschi’s son, Michael, who was killed in a car accident in 2003. At the time, Breschi was at the helm of OSU’s program from 1998 to 2008. At the end of the game, the Michael R. Breschi Scholarship is awarded to a senior Ohio State player.
During Breschi’s tenure as Ohio State’s skipper, now-OSU head coach Nick Myers was his assistant and saw Breschi as his mentor. This game was the fourth time the two have been on opposite sidelines, one time when Breschi held the first two wins and another when Myers sealed the 2011 victory.
Breschi knew this game was going to be a slugfest.
“We really don't love playing against each other,” Breschi said.
The first half was a seesaw battle, opened up by a goal made by none other than grad student attackman Chris Gray. He was named USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Player of the Year and currently holds the ACC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Ohio State’s Jackson Reid, who won the Michael R. Breschi scholarship award in the fall, tied the score. Next, senior attackman Nicky Solomon shot a low goal off a broken OSU clear, which was followed by another Buckeye goal.
By the end of the first quarter, the face-off tally was about even, 3-2 Ohio State, which reflected the tied score, but the seesaw soon tipped in the Buckeyes’ favor.