CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Chris Cloutier led the Tar Heels with seven points, matching the second highest total of his career, and junior Riley Graham stepped in at the face-off circle with 18 wins and 12 ground balls, as seventh-ranked North Carolina defeated Dartmouth 17-6 in men’s lacrosse action Saturday night at Navy Field.
With the win the Tar Heels snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 5-3 on the season heading into next Saturday’s national TV matchup (ESPNU) at Fetzer Field between 2016 NCAA champion North Carolina and 2016 NCAA runner-up Maryland. Face-off next Saturday is at 11:30 a.m. The Tar Heels will be looking to reward head coach Joe Breschi with his 100th win at Carolina against the Terrapins. The win against the Big Green was his 99th at UNC in his nine seasons as head coach.
Three Tar Heels had hat tricks in the game as Chris Cloutier, Andy Matthews and Luke Goldstock each scored three times for Breschi’s squad. Cloutier added a career-high four assists in the game, exceeding the three he had against Richmond on March 19, 2016 and against Notre Dame on May 22, 2016. Cloutier’s seven points matched the second most he had in a game, equaling the total he had against Richmond on March 19, 2016. His career best is nine points against Loyola on May 28, 2016.
Matthews had the first hat trick of his career, matching the three goals he had in the first seven games of the season, and he added two assists to give him a career high five points in the game. Mike Guerin had the first two goals of his career and Tanner Cook also tallied his first career goal. UNC also got single goals from Michael Tagliaferri, William Perry, Justin Anderson and Timmy Kelly.
With both Stephen Kelly and Charles Kelly on the mend from injuries, junior Riley Graham stepped in at the face-off circle and was brilliant. He won 18 of 26 face-offs in the game and had 12 ground balls. Graham’s 18 face-off victories equaled the 16th most in Tar Heel history. His 12 ground balls matched the 10th most in a game in Carolina history.
Carolina outshot the Big Green 54-27 and had a slight edge in ground balls at 36-33. UNC finished with the 18-9 edge in the face-off circle. Carolina finished with 14 turnovers while the Big Green had 18. Nine different Tar Heels had caused turnovers in the match. UNC was 14-of-15 in the clearing game while Dartmouth was 13-of-16.
Brian Balkam started in goal for the Tar Heels and played 45 minutes, making eight saves and allowing just four goals. Jack Pezzulla played 13:34 in goal and had five saves and two goals allowed. Alex Bassil played the last 1:26 in the goal for the Tar Heels. George Christopher played 55:58 in goal for the Big Green and he made 11 saves while allowing 15 goals. Griffin Miller played the last 4:02 in goal for Dartmouth.
After Andy Matthews scored a pair of goals in the opening 57 seconds of the game, Dartmouth scored the last two goals of the opening period. The game remained tied at 2-2 inside the 10-minute mark of the second quarter before UNC took the lead for good with a run of three goals by Tanner Cook, Andy Matthews and Chris Cloutier in a span of 2:14 early in the second quarter. After Dartmouth answered with a goal by Harlan Smart, Carolina ran off five straight goals to go up 10-3 with 11:14 left in the third quarter.
Timmy Kelly scored in the first minute of the second half before back-to-back goals on outside shots by Luke Goldstock put Carolina up 10-3 with less than four minutes elapsed in the second half. The two teams traded the next six goals before Cloutier scored his third goal of the game off Matthews’ second assist with 5:03 to play.In the final four minutes of the game, the Tar Heels’ freshmen “G” attackmen combined for three goals. Mike Guerin scored off Jack Halpert’s assist at 4:02, Matt Gavin tallied unassisted at 1:26 and Geurin recorded his second goal off an assist by Timmy Gehlbach with 1:06 to play.