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No. 18 UNC men's lacrosse falls to No. 15 Princeton, 15-9, in second ranked matchup of season

MLAX v Princeton
UNC first-year faceoff Brady Wambach (22) and UNC graduate faceoff Andrew Tyeryar (3) follow the ball during the UNC men's lacrosse game against Princeton on Friday, March 1, 2024, at Dorrance Field.

In its second ranked matchup of the season, No. 18 North Carolina men’s lacrosse (2-2) fell to No. 15 Princeton (3-1) 15-9 on Friday at Dorrance Field. 

Struggling to score off turnovers and defensive saves, UNC could not keep up with an offensively dominant Princeton team. The Tigers outscored the Tar Heels 6-1 in the second quarter, creating a hole North Carolina could not climb out of in the remaining time of regulation. 

“I think we gotta continue to work on those little basics of getting stops, organizing, throwing the ball the way we’re capable of – the way we do it all the time in practice,” head coach Joe Breschi said.

After the Tar Heels committed two turnovers in the opening minutes of the matchup, the Tigers got on the board first with Chad Palumbo scoring unassisted. UNC quickly responded as graduate attackman Logan McGovern navigated around his defender for a high shot into the corner of the goal. 

With North Carolina senior goalkeeper Collin Krieg pulled from between the posts to defend outside the circle, Princeton took advantage. Coulter Mackesy scored from above the midfield line after breaking free from his defensemen. UNC first-year attackman Owen Duffy recorded a hat trick by the end of the first quarter, scoring three unanswered goals to put the Tar Heels up 4-3. 

The Tigers exploded in the early minutes of the second quarter, executing a 3-0 run to retake the lead. Although another Duffy goal kept UNC within one, Princeton completed the first half with three additional unanswered goals and entered the locker room with a 9-5 advantage. 

Despite an inability to close the early deficit, the Tar Heels totaled 25 shots – equal to Princeton’s halftime shot count – and forced the Tigers to commit six turnovers in the second period. Consecutive defensive stops prevented Princeton from running away with the game before the break, but UNC struggled to execute on its opportunities. 

“We gotta continue to learn that piece of if we’re playing a lot of defense and we’re making some stops and clearing, not to rush but to work for those quality possessions,” Breschi said. 

Dominating possession in the second half’s opening, North Carolina rallied to score two goals – capped by a deep shot from redshirt first-year attackman Dominic Pietramala. With the Tigers leading 11-8 at the five-minute mark of the third quarter, sophomore goalkeeper Kent Goode, who replaced Krieg at the beginning of the half, saved a shot headed to the top left corner of the net. 

However, on the following possession, UNC was, once again, unable to capitalize on the successful defensive play. From there, the deficit only grew. 

With less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, Princeton’s Prin Mulshine charged down the field and released the ball from outside the crease, scoring the Tigers’ fourth goal of the period. 

“We gave up a couple of transition opportunities – the 10 men they scored on and man-up,” Breschi said. “So you can't give them those types of opportunities. We’ve got to be more sound and fundamental in some of the basics.” 

In the final 15 minutes of action, Princeton further cemented its lead with two goals and a suffocating defensive scheme. By double-teaming North Carolina’s attackers, UNC committed costly turnovers and could not make significant headway into the crease for close-range shots. Pietramala’s goal with 27 seconds remaining was the only score by a Tar Heel in the fourth quarter.  

The Tar Heels will return to Dorrance Field for another ranked matchup against No. 17 Penn on Sunday at noon. 

@carolinewills03

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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