BALTIMORE, MD. - The fifth-ranked North Carolina men's lacrosse team outscored ninth-ranked Johns Hopkins 9-2 over the last 31:30 of the game to beat the Blue Jays 13-9 at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. Joey Sankey had a career high five goals and he matched his career high for points in a game with seven to lead the Tar Heel comeback.
UNC has now won three games in a row and has improved to 8-2 on the season heading into a home game next Saturday against #8 Virginia at Fetzer Field at 3 p.m. The Blue Jays have lost three in a row and are now 5-3 on the campaign.
UNC trailed 7-4 five minutes before halftime but scored the next six goals in a row to take a 10-7 lead that Carolina never relinquished. Carolina had its biggest lead of the game with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter at 13-8 after Shane Simpson scored an empty net goal.
Sankey led the Tar Heels with five goals and two assists while Steve Pontrello had a pair of goals for UNC. Shane Simpson had a goal and an assist for UNC while Pat Foster had two assists. Carolina's other goals came from Jimmy Bitter, Ryan Creighton, Chad Tutton, R.G. Keenan and Jake Matthai.
The Blue Jays were led by Holden Cattoni who had a hat trick. Brandon Benn had two goals for the Blue Jays while Wells Stanwick added a goal and two assists.
The statistics were extremely lopsided in the first half for Johns Hopkins but the Tar Heels were still very much in the game at the half, trailing just 7-5. For the game, the Blue Jays outshot the Tar Heels 40-29 and had a 27-22 edge in ground balls. But UNC had a 14-8 edge in ground balls in the second half when it mounted its comeback. Hopkins won 20 of 26 face-offs led by the work of Drew Kennedy who came into the match averaging 67.7 percent on draws.
Kieran Burke made 10 saves for UNC, including five in each half. Eric Schneider had seven saves for the Blue Jays but had only two saves in the second half when the Tar Heels put 10 shots on goal.
Sankey's previous career high for goals in a game was four. He accomplished that three times in his sophomore season in 2013. This is the third time he has had seven points in a game. He also did it against Dartmouth in games both last year and this season.
The Blue Jays outscored the Tar Heels 4-3 in the first quarter and 3-2 in the second quarter to take a 7-5 lead at the half. In was an opening 30 minutes in which Johns Hopkins dominated the game statistically. The Blue Jays outshot the Tar Heels 22-13 in the first half and had a 19-8 edge in ground balls. The Blue Jays won 13 of the 14 face-offs taken in the first half. The only flaw in the first half on the stat sheet for Hopkins was 10 turnovers, a total which included four failed clears.
Carolina opened the scoring 2:26 into the game as Joey Sankey scored unassisted on a bounce shot from a tough angle from the right side. Hopkins quickly answered with a pair of goals. John Crawley scored on a bounce shot at 11:10 and then eight seconds later Phil Castranova scored off the face-off to put the Blue Jays up 2-1.
UNC's Jake Matthai tied the game off an assist by Pat Foster at 10:26 after the Tar Heel ride caused a Blue Jay turnover. Neither team scored for nearly nine minutes before there were three combined goals in the final two minutes of the half. Wells Stanwick scored an extra-man goal for the Blue Jays at 1:37 but Sankey tied the game 46 seconds later. Hopkins then retook the lead on an unassisted goal by Holden Cattoni with 22 seconds left in the first quarter.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter, the Tar Heels tied the game on a goal by Steve Pontrello on an outside bounce shot, assisted by Joey Sankey. Shortly thereafter, UNC had an extra-man chance but Eric Schneider made two saves for the Blue Jays and within moments Hopkins claimed a two-goal lead on the other end of the field. Holden Cattoni gave the Blue Jays the lead at 10:15 of the quarter before back-to-back goals by Brandon Benn, both assisted by Wells Stanick, gave Hopkins a 7-4 lead with 5:27 left in the half. Carolina's Chad Tutton scored on a bounce shot with 1:30 left in the first half to pull the Heels within two goals at intermission.
After the Tar Heels killed off an extra-man chance for the Blue Jays in the first minute of the third quarter, Carolina began chipping away at the Johns Hopkins lead. Ryan Creighton and Shane Simpson worked a brilliant two-man game leading to a goal with 11:17 to play in the third quarter. Creighton scored the goal, assisted by Simpson. UNC then got the equalizing goal with 6:53 to play in the third quarter as Jimmy Bitter ran his consecutive game streak with a point to 35 off an assist by Sankey. The Tar Heels took the lead for good on Sankey's unassisted goal with 3:02 to play in the third quarter. Just 1:02 later, Steve Pontrello stung the net from 10 yards out to give the Tar Heels a 9-7 lead. Carolina's R.G. Keenan won the ensuing face-off and raced down the middle of the field to score past Schneider just five seconds after Pontrello's goal.
Leading 10-7 heading into the fourth quarter, UNC outscored the Blue Jays 3-2 in the final period. Hopkins scored the opening goal of the period as Ryan Brown tallied to make it 10-8 with 13:07 to play. The next eight minutes of the game was all Carolina. The Tar Heels scored back-to-back timer-on goals by Sankey, both on near Herculean efforts. The first came at 9:14 as the Tar Heels chased down a loose ball from going out of bounds before Pat Foster made a cross crease pass to the right side from Sankey finished off his diving attempt. Sankey scored again on a wrap around the crease with 6:57 to play, again while the timer was on. Just over two minutes later, the Tar Heels' Shane Simpson scored into an empty net. The Tar Heels committed two late penalties and Holden Cattoni got an extra-man goal with 3:07 left to finish off the scoring.For the game, UNC forced 16 turnovers by the Blue Jays while UNC committed just 11. Johns Hopkins had six extra-man opportunities in the game and scored twice while UNC was 0-for-1 on the EMO.