Not all endings can close in storybook fashion.
And with the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team’s 19-11 loss to Duke on Sunday night, the season is all but over – barring a surprise at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
But, as a post-game huddle arrayed with hugs, tears and soft whimpers of defeat might suggest, those in the shiny Carolina blue tops knew their fate.
The season’s end had come, but not without a historic accomplishment by graduate attacker Chris Gray.
“It’s hard to put it into words this fresh off the loss,” head coach Joe Breschi said. “It’s tough to end this way for sure.”
North Carolina gained the early possession and looked to strike first behind team captain Gray. Coming into the contest, the transfer from Boston University sat five points shy of Lyle Thompson, the all-time NCAA Division I leader in career points.
Gray creeped closer to the record-breaking mark after finding senior attackman Nicky Solomon at the left side of the cage for the easy top-shelf finish, just over 90 seconds into the game. The connection appeared seamless — a product of the chemistry the two players have built over the years.
“I get texts from Gray every second saying ‘let’s go shoot,’” Solomon remarked about his teammate.
The assist brought Gray closer to breaking the record, but it was immediately countered by a persistent Duke attack. The Blue Devils netted three of the next four goals, and it looked as if the Tar Heels were prepared to fold under adversity.