Lance Tillman and Andrew Tyeryar were cracking jokes with each other as they walked off Dorrance Field on Saturday.
After winning 19-6 against Brown, it was easy for the North Carolina men’s lacrosse seniors to do so.
Tillman recorded three goals — his second hat trick in his last three outings — and two assists, as well as setting a career-high in assists in a season after just six games. While he added to his fantastic start to the season, it was his roommate that got the spotlight, and for good reason.
Being a face-off specialist, Tyeryar’s primary responsibility is to win the faceoff, pass the ball to someone to start the offense and then get off the field. In most games, he’s lucky to record a shot, let alone score a goal. In his 41 previous games with the Tar Heels, he had scored a goal in six. But he had never had a multi-game goal.
Against the Bears, Tyeryar scored three times, recording his first hat trick since high school.
“I was just feeling good,” Tyeryar said. “Shoutout to the wings for giving me space in transition. It felt good to score because it’s been a while.”
After struggling to score last Saturday in its 9-8 loss against Denver, North Carolina was looking to find a way to get the ball in the net, and Tyeryar helped to do just that.
After he scored six minutes into the game to put them up 2-1, the Tar Heels scored two more goals in the next two minutes and extended their lead. These “juice goals,” or goals that come from non-traditional players like Tyeryar, were part of what head coach Joe Breschi said gets the team fired up to get going and have games like Saturday.
While North Carolina scored the majority of their goals in an even-man setting, Breschi was more impressed with the transition offense that helped create fluid passing and scoring opportunities.
After failing to capitalize in transition early in the season, the Tar Heels harped on the concept in practice and worked so that they’d be able to focus on winning faceoffs and forcing turnovers.
“We didn’t feel like we were finishing our opportunities and we really focused on that aspect,” Breschi said. “I felt like our offense was pretty balanced in how we scored six-on-six, and on fast breaks.”
Creating those fast breaks is ignited by North Carolina's defense, which is headed by experienced defensemen like graduates Andrew Geppert and Evan Egan. The defense caused Brown to turn the ball over 13 times, making the Bears unable to capitalize on their possessions and forcing them to make mistakes that would lead to UNC goals on the other end.
While players like Geppert and Egan help immensely, the team has also been boosted by a goalkeeper that can guide those players and make saves when necessary, as well. Junior Collin Krieg has played that role for three years for the Tar Heels, gaining the trust of Breschi to be free in the crease and roam around the field to find the open man and start the transition.
When asked what allows him to handle these responsibilities, he attributed it all to the players in front of him.
“I’m gonna give all the credit in the world to my defense,” Krieg said. “I’ve got Evan Egan, Andrew Geppert and (sophomore defenseman) Paul Barton down low. Up top, our short-stick and long-stick midfielders are phenomenal. They make my job really easy this year seeing shots I want to see, and I’ve been making stops.
All across the field, North Carolina had a great day, scoring goals and making stops, making it so that they’re in the mood to make jokes after the game.
But for Tyeryar, he seemed to be playing with a bigger purpose.
“I’m having fun,” he said.
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