KENNESAW, GA. - No. 13 Massachusetts outscored No. 7 North Carolina 4-0 in the final quarter and rallied past the Tar Heels 12-11 Saturday afternoon at KSU Stadium in the third annual Southern Showdown.
Back-to-back unassisted goals by Grant Whiteway and Connor Mooney in the final five minutes capped the rally for the Minutemen who improved to 2-0 on the season while Carolina falls to 1-1. UMass has not lost a regular season game since 2011 and continued that string with a fierce second half rally that erased a 7-4 UNC halftime lead.
A balanced scoring attack led the Minutemen as they got three goals from Kyle Smith and three from Connor Mooney. Andrew Sokol scored twice for UMass and his two scores in the earlier stages of the fourth quarter pulled the Minutemwn with a single goal and set the stage for the late-gam heroics. Grant Whiteway also had two goals for UMass who had seven unassisted goal amongst their total of seven.
Carolina has two goals each from Marcus Holman, Jimmy Bitter and Spencer Parks. Carolina also relied on unassisted goal, recording four assists on 11 tallies.
Carolina ousthot the Minutemen 43-38 but UMass had the edge after halftime 22-15. Zachary Oliveri turned in an All-America calibre performance for the Minutemen in the goal as he made 18 saves while allowing only 10 goals in 59:39. He twice stuffed UNC game-tying efforts in the final two minutes, saving a shot by Davey Emala on a UNC extra-man opportunity with 2:07 to play and then making a save on a shot by Greg McBride with two seconds left in the match.
After jumping to an early 2-0 lead on goals by Jimmy Bitter and Spencer Parks, the Tar Heels led the entire game until Whiteway scored the tying goal with 4:16 to play. Just 58 seconds later, Mooney scored the game-winner for UMass. Carolina had three-goal leads on three occasions at 6-3, 7-4 and 11-8 but could never shake the Minutemen. UMass had clawed within 9-8 late in the third quarter but goals by Spencer Parks with 1:12 to play in the third quarter and by Marcus Holman with seconds left in the period made it 11-8. Carolina would not score again as was limited to just three shots in the opening 12 and a half minutes of the final period, a time span in which UMass claimed the lead for good.
UMass won the ground ball battle 39-38 while the Tar Heels had a slight in the face-off circle at 15-12. Kieran Burke finished with 12 saves for the Tar Heels.The Tar Heels will be back in action on Saturday, February 23 when they play host to Fairfield at 12 noon at Fetzer Field.