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Last-minute goals leave UNC men's lacrosse in two-game losing skid

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UNC senior goalkeeper Colin Krieg (39) looks to clear during the UNC men's lacrosse game against Johns Hopkins on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at Dorrance Field. UNC fell to Johns Hopkins 13-9.

Tears filled senior goalkeeper Collin Krieg's eyes as he walked over to the North Carolina fan section.

For the second straight week, the game-winning goal had been scored on Krieg in the final minute — this time, in a 13-12 loss to No. 6 Army. Another missed opportunity to earn a resume-boosting win for the Tar Heels. In last week's 12-11 loss to High Point, the Tar Heels held an 11-5 lead with 23 minutes left in regulation. But UNC was held scoreless and gave up two goals in the final two minutes. Then, on Saturday, it happened again.

Tied at 12 apiece, Army’s Evan Plunkett side-armed a shot that whizzed into the top-right corner past Krieg.

While the senior goalie was the only player in tears, North Carolina's pain was apparent. You could see it on the face of first-year attackman Owen Duffy after his career-high-tying five goals were made moot. You could hear it in the voice of head coach Joe Breschi, who instead is now entering ACC play with a 6-4 record that could've easily read 8-2.

“We had our chances to win,” Breschi said. “Really proud of the effort, but we weren’t able to close.” 

The past two games provided the Tar Heels multiple opportunities, mainly the opportunity to get eight wins with four games in hand, and in doing so, guaranteeing a finish above .500. The chance to ensure an NCAA tournament appearance with an at-large bid.

Instead, to finish off the month, North Carolina lost to a High Point team they'd never lost to before and fumbled away a prime opportunity to upset Army.

Luckily for the Tar Heels, the past two weeks don’t matter as much. As North Carolina begins conference play, the Tar Heels get a clean slate and have a chance to change the narrative.

As long as the Tar Heels finish fourth out of five teams in the ACC, they’ll earn a trip to Charlotte for the conference tournament, where they’ll have a shot at an automatic bid. It won't be easy. The other four teams, Notre Dame, Virginia, Syracuse and Duke, all rank top-5 nationwide.

But, in Breschi's words, the opportunity to restart and build a strong resume is there.

“I think as you start a new season with the ACC, everything’s sitting right in front of you," Breschi said, "and that’s why you have these competitive out-of-conference games to help prepare you."

@thenoahmonroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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