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Senior tri-captain Ryan Creighton leads the Tar Heels into a crucial ACC game at the Carrier Dome Saturday.
Senior tri-captain Ryan Creighton leads the Tar Heels into a crucial ACC game at the Carrier Dome Saturday.
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UNC Set For First Visit To Carrier Dome In 20 Years
Release: 04/10/2014

Tar Heels Visit Carrier Dome For First Time Since 1994

2014 UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA MEN'S LACROSSE GAME NOTES

Game 12

North Carolina Tar Heels (9-2, ACC 2-2, #4 USILA Coaches Poll/#4 Warrior Media Poll) at Syracuse Orange (7-3, ACC 1-3, #7 USILA Coaches Poll/#7 Warrior Media Poll)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

6:00 p.m.

Carrier Dome

Syracuse, N.Y.

Live Stats: GoHeels.com

Live Telecast: ESPNU

Live Simulcast:  ESPN3

Follow The Tar Heels On Twitter:  UNCTarHeelLax or UNCMensLacrosse

2014 UNC Lacrosse Media Guide:  Access Media Guide Link on Lacrosse Home Page of GoHeels.com

The Coaches

North Carolina:  Joe Breschi, North Carolina '90; 6th year at UNC, 68-27;  17th year overall, 160-90

Virginia:  John Desko, Syracuse '91;  16th year at Syracuse, 194-61;  16th year at Syracuse, 194-61

Television Information

ESPNU

Play by Play:  Anish Shroff

Analysis:  Ryan Boyle & Matt Ward

CAROLINA PLAYS ACC REGULAR SEASON FINALE AT SYRACUSE SATURDAY:  For the first time since 1996, the North Carolina men's lacrosse team renews its old rivalry with the Syracuse Orange Saturday at 6 p.m. when the two teams meet up at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.  The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU.

The game will be the ACC regular-season finale for both the Tar Heels and the Orange, both of whom will play non-conference games next week before the ACC Tournament is held April 25-27 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

UNC enters the match with a 9-2 record overall and a 2-2 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conerence while Syracuse is 7-3 overall and 1-3 in the ACC.

Both teams enter the match playing their best lacrosse of the season.  Each team has rallied since disappointing losses to defending NCAA champion Duke to put together winning streaks.

The Tar Heels have won their past four games after suffering a 9-8 overtime loss at defending national champion Duke on March 15.  Last Saturday, Carolina won a back-and-forth match against Virginia 11-10, scoring twice in the last 2:33 of play to claim the victory.

Since suffering a 21-7 loss at Duke on March 23, Syracuse has rallied to win three games in a row, beating Notre Dame, Binghamton and then decisively beating previously #1-ranked Cornell 14-9 this past Tuesday in Ithaca.

The Tar Heels are ranked #4 in the USILA coaches poll they are also #4 in the Warrior media poll sponsored by Inside Lacrosse.  The The Orange are ranked #7 in the USILA coaches poll and they are currently ranked #7 in the Warrior media poll sponsored by Inside Lacrosse.

CAROLINA VERSUS SYRACUSE:  Saturday will mark the 18th meeting between North Carolina and Syracuse.  It will be the first regular season meeting since the 1994 season when Syracuse routed Carolina 17-10 at the Carrier Dome.

Overall, Syracuse is 11-6 all-time against the Tar Heels and the Orange have won six of the previous seven games played in Syracuse.

Carolina sole win over the Orange at the Carrier Dome came in the 1991 NCAA Tournament semifinals when UNC won 19-13.

The most recent meeting between the two teams came on May 11, 1996 when the Orange routed the Tar Heels 19-12 in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals at Piscataway, N.J.

Of particular note in the series history is the fact Syracuse has gone 5-0 against Carolina in games decided by one goal.

WIN AND YOUR IN:  With only four spots available in the 2014 ACC Tournament at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. on April 25-27, each of the remaining conference games holds particular significance.  At this point, Maryland and Duke have punched their tickets for the tournament.  There are multiple possibilities for the other four teams to make it into the field.  For the Tar Heels, the scenario is the simplest to figure out.  A win over Syracuse and the Tar Heels are definitely in.  A loss and Carolina is likely out because of the tiebreaker implications of losses to Notre Dame and Syracuse head-to-head.

FINISHING OUT GAMES:  After losing a pair of one-goal games to Notre Dame and Duke earlier in the year, the Tar Heels have done a better job of finishing out close games in their past four contests.  The Tar Heels will need to play with similar poise if they are to emerge from the Carrier Dome with their first victory over Syracuse since 1993 on Saturday.

Early in the year, the Tar Heels gave up a five-goal third quarter lead to Notre Dame, falling behind early in the fourth quarter and eventually losing to the Fighting Irish 11-10.

Five days later, UNC played better in a tough matchup at Princeton, outscoring the Tigers 3-1 late in the fourth quarter of a 13-11 victory.

A week later, UNC and Duke fought tooth and nail with the Tar Heels unable to hold a two-goal lead in the second half.  Eventually, the Blue Devils scored in the final two minutes of play and won in overtime 9-8.

Since then, Coach Joe Breschi has been encouraged by Carolina's second half play.  Carolina protected second half leads in wins over Harvard 13-10 and then #1 Maryland 11-8.

Carolina then outscored Johns Hopkins 8-2 in the second half in the Tar Heels' 13-9 win at Homewood Field in Baltimore, Md.

Last Saturday, the Tar Heels found themselves in a dogfight with Virginia.  Neither team led by more than two goals in the game before Virginia scored with less than four minutes to play to take a 10-9 lead.  But the Tar Heels persevered and goals by Steve Pontrello with 2:33 to play and by R.G. Keenan with 2:28 to play lifted Carolina to an 11-10 victory after the Tar Heels forced turnovers on Virginia's last two possessions of the game.

LIVE COVERAGE FOR SATURDAY'S GAME VERSUS SYRACUSE:  For fans of Carolina lacrosse that cannot be there in person at the Carrier Dome on Saturday please follow along with live stats with a link available on the home page at GoHeels.com.

The game between the Tar Heels and the Orange will also be telecast live on ESPNU with a simulcast on ESPN3. Fans can find links for the live feed of the game on both GoHeels.com and WatchESPN.

Anish Shroff is the play by play announcer for Saturday's game while Ryan Boyle and Matt Ward will double team as the color analysts.

LAST TIME OUT FOR THE TAR HEELS:  North Carolina senior midfielder R.G. Keenan has a habit of scoring late-game, momentum-shifting goals in his career for the Tar Heels.  He did it again on Saturday, April 5 on Senior Day at Fetzer Field as the #5 Tar Heels defeated the #9 Virginia Cavaliers 11-10 at sun-drenched Fetzer Field in men's lacrosse action.

Before a near capacity crowd of 4,952 fans, Keenan scored off his own face-off win with 2:28 remaining in the fourth quarter to rally the Tar Heels past the Cavaliers 11-10.  Carolina improved to 9-2 on the season with the win and evened its ACC record at 2-2.

Carolina has now won four games in a row over the Cavaliers, the first time they have done that since 1990-92.  The Wahoos had also won the last seven games between the two teams that had been decided by a single goal.  Carolina's one-goal win on Saturday was the first time it beat the Cavaliers in that scenario since a 19-18 victory in 1996.

It was a classic ACC battle in which neither side was ever able to gain clear footing.  UNC twice led by a pair of goals in the first half.  But after the teams were deadlocked 5-5 at intermission neither team held more than a one-goal lead for the entirety of the second half.

Carolina carried a 9-8 edge into the fourth quarter but Virginia tied the game on Mark Cockerton's fourth goal of the match with 7:24 to play.  After Matt Barrett made his 13th save of the game on a shot by UNC's Shane Simpson with 6:06 to play, the Wahoos went on a long possession, shooting wide three times before UVA head coach Dom Starsia called timeout with 4:10 to play.  After another shot by Cockerton was off the mark, the Wahoos took a 10-9 lead with 3:38 to play as Greg Coholan scored his 10th goal of the season, assisted by Owen Van Arsdale.

Carolina won the ensuring face-off and worked the ball around for more than a minute before Pat Foster, who had a career high four assists, found a cutting Steve Pontrello all alone in front of the goal.  Pontrello's 11th goal of the season tied the game at 10-10 with 2:33 to play.

Keenan, one of 12 seniors playing their final games at Fetzer Field, was perfect on the pinch and pop on the ensuing face-off as he seized the ground ball and went straight down the field and scored past Barrett just five seconds later.  It was his second goal of the season.  He also had the game-winner in the win at Johns Hopkins the previous Saturday.

The game was far from over, however.  Virginia gained possession on the next face-off and a shot by Cockerton went wide with 1:51 to play.  Nineteen seconds later, senior Ryan Creighton forced a turnover by James Pannell and senior Mark McNeill scooped up the ground ball and cleared successfully for UNC.

Carolina was able to hold the ball until a timer-on violation with 19 seconds left gave the ball to the Wahoos.  But the Cavs were unable to clear as Ryan Creighton gathered in the ground ball off an errant pass by Chris LaPierre and ran off the final nine seconds before a raucous, partisan crowd.

Joey Sankey led the Tar Heels with three goals and two assists while Jimmy Bitter and Steve Pontrello each scored twice for Carolina.  Pat Foster's four assists broke his previous career high of three set against Penn State his sophomore year and Bucknell earlier this year.  Shane Simpson, Keenan, Luke Goldstock and Walker Chafee all had single goals for UNC.  Single assists went to Spencer Parks and Chad Tutton.

SANKEY NAMED ACC CO-PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  North Carolina junior attackman Joey Sankey was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Lacrosse Offensive Co-Player of the Week as announced April 2 by the conference office.

 Sankey scored a career-high five goals en route to a seven-point day to lead North Carolina to a come-from-behind victory at No. 9 Johns Hopkins. With the Tar Heels trailing 7-4 late in the second period, the Warminster, Pa., native helped engineer Carolina's comeback as he played a role in two goals, including the go-ahead strike, during a 4-0 run that gave the Tar Heels the lead for good. Sankey padded North Carolina's lead with two timer-on goals midway through the fourth quarter to help ice the win.  Sankey also matched his career high for points in a game with seven against the Blue Jays.

FIRST HALFTIME DEFICIT IN 16 GAMES:  When North Carolina trailed Johns Hopkins 7-5 at halftime of their game on March 29 in Baltimore, it marked the first time in 16 games that the Tar Heels had been behind at halftime.

Carolina had not trailed in a game at halftime since April 13, 2013 when UNC was down 5-4 at the half against Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y.  Carolina outscored the Pride 10-0 in the second half of that game to win 14-5.

Prior to March 29 against the Blue Jays, the last time the Tar Heels had faced a multi-goal halftime deficit was March 13, 2013 when Duke led Carolina 8-4 at halftime en route to an 11-8 victory over UNC.

FIRST-TIME HAT TRICKS:  Since the 20-4 victory over Bucknell on March 11, four different Tar Heels have recorded first time hat tricks for their careers.

Attackman Luke Goldstock and midfielder Patrick Kelly each recorded their first career three-goal games in Carolina's victory over Bucknell on March 11.

Red-shirt freshman midfielder Michael Tagliaferri had the first hat trick of his career against Duke on March 15.  Tagliaferri was hurt in the next game against Harvard and missed the next two games before returning to the lineup against Virginia for a couple of midfield runs.

Against Harvard on March 18, sophomore midfielder Steve Pontrello notched his first career hat trick.  He had two of his three goals in the fourth quarter as the Tar Heels held off a late run by the Crimson in a 13-10 victory.  That started a hot streak for Pontrello who has scored seven goals in the last four games.

MIDDIES LEAD THE WAY AGAINST CRIMSON:  North Carolina's midfield unit led the way against the Harvard Crimson on March 18 in a 13-10 win by the Tar Heels.  Ten of Carolina's 13 goals were scored by UNC midfielders including three by short-stick defensive midfielders.  Steve Pontrello had a hat trick while Chad Tutton and Walker Chafee each scored twice for UNC.

Carolina also benefitted from single goals by short-stick defensive midfielders Ryan Creighton, Mark McNeill and Jake Matthai.

VARIED ACTORS LEAD MAN-UP CORPS:  North Carolina has scored 17 man-up goals this season in 34 attempts.

Twelve of those 17 goals have come from three players junior midfielder Walker Chafee scoring five goals and freshman attackman Luke Goldstock scoring four EMO goals.  Nine of their combined 15 goals this season have come in extra-man situations.

Junior midfielder Chad Tutton has three EMO goals and five other players have one goal apiece.

Chafee and Goldstock have proved to be Carolina's best percentage shooters so far this season.  Chafee has scored his eight goals on just 11 shots (.727) while Goldstock has recorded seven goals on 17 shots (.412).

UNC SHOOTERS ABOVE 33 PERCENT:  Carolina has a host of players scoring on more than one-third of their shots at this point of the season led by Chafee's 72.7 percentage and Goldstock's 41.2 scoring pace.

Other Tar Heels above the one-third plateau are Pat Foster (37.5), Ryan Creighton (37.5), Jake Matthai (37.5), Joey Sankey (37.0), Shane Simpson (37.0), Steve Pontrello (34.4) and Jimmy Bitter (33.9).

CAROLINA'S MUCH MALIGNED DEFENSE:  North Carolina's defense, which has received its fair share of uncomplimentary press on the national stage, has actually been one of Carolina's most improved areas in 2014.

To date, UNC has allowed only four teams to reach double figures in scoring (Notre Dame 11, Princeton 11, Harvard 10, Virginia 10).  The Tar Heels are allowing 7.73 goals per game so far in 2014.  That's down from 9.94 goals per game in the 2013 season.

Sophomore goalkeeper Kieran Burke ranks in the Top 10 nationally in both save percentage (.569) and goals against average (7.93).

Carolina's improved defense will surely be put to the test this Saturday when it travels to ACC powerhouse Syracuse to play at the Carrier Dome for the first time since 1994.

UNC's defense held Maryland to eight goals and Johns Hopkins to nine goals in games on March 22 and March 29.  In both instances, UNC held those opponents to their first single digit goal totals of the 2014 season.

FOSTER'S CLUTCH PLAY THIS SEASON:  Pat Foster scored three goals for the Tar Heels in their win over Princeton March 7 and followed that up with a five-point performance against Bucknell four days later. 

Foster's hat trick versus Princeton was the third of his career and his first three-goal game since April 17, 2011 versus Lehigh. He also had a career high three ground balls in the game versus the Tigers.

Foster followed that up with two goals and three assists versus Bucknell on March 11.  His three assists matched his career high initially set against Penn State on February 11, 2012.  His five points eclipsed his previous career high of four versus Maryland on March 26, 2011.

Foster has recorded 15 goals in the first 10 games of the 2014 season.  That's 67 percent more than the number of goals he had in 2012 and 2013 combined when he had five each season.  He also had 15 goals as a freshman in 2011.  He is currently UNC's second leading scorer with 29 points.  He ranks second on the team in assists with 14 and he is tied for third in goals scored with 15.

Foster had two goals and two assists in the win over Maryland and had a career high four ground balls in the game as well.  Against Virginia, he recorded a career high four assists, including one on Steve Pontrello's game-tying goal with 2:33 to play.

PIFANI NAMED ACC PLAYER OF WEEK:  Freshman Austin Pifani led two outstanding defensive performances for the Tar Heels as they defeated Harvard and Maryland, 13-10 and 11-8, respectively, on March 18 and March 22.  He was rewarded for that effort by being named ACC Defensive Player of the Week on March 25.

Pifani had a career-high five ground balls against Harvard to go along with two caused turnovers. Pifani held Crimson attackman Ian Ardrey without a point or goal, and allowed him just one shot. Pifani was even better against No. 1 Maryland as the Tar Heel defense held the Terps to a season-low eight goals, while handing them their first loss of the season. The rookie from Roslyn, Pa., marked Maryland's second-leading scorer Matt Rambo, and held him without a point on 0-for-7 shooting.

SHARING THE LOAD:  Carolina has nine players with double figures in points this season, achieving that total in just 10 games.  UNC also had nine players with 10 or more points last season but it took it 17 games to accomplish that feat.

Freshman Luke Goldstock and junior Walker Chafee are on the verge of joining the 10-point club with nine and eight, respectively.

KELLY & LAMBERT UNDERGO SUCCESSFUL SURGERIES:  A pair of University of North Carolina men's lacrosse players recently underwent successful surgeries and are expected to make full recoveries.

Freshman midfielder Stephen Kelly of Lutherville, Md. (Calvert Hall) underwent surgery to repair a broken right wrist on March 24. Kelly suffered the injury in the first quarter of a March 18th 13-10 win over Harvard but completed the game nevertheless, winning 13 face-offs against the Crimson and claiming eight ground balls.

The time frame for Kelly's injury to heal has not been determined as of this date, although it is likely he is out the remainder of the season.  In eight games this year, he was an outstanding presence for Carolina in the midfield.  He performed at 61.2 percent in the face-off circle, winning 74 of his 121 attempts.  He led Carolina with 47 ground balls and also scored a pair of goals while committing only one turnover.

Freshman defenseman Jack Lambert of Cross River, N.Y. (John Jay) recently underwent successful knee surgery after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the closing seconds of the Tar Heels' game against Manhattan on February 16.  Lambert is already in the rehabilitation phase of his recovery.  He will miss the remainder of the Tar Heels' 2014 season but it eligible for a medical red-shirt, allowing him to retain four years of eligibility going forward.

CAREER GAMES FOR GOLDSTOCK AND PATRICK KELLY:  Freshman attackman Luke Goldstock and sophomore midfielder Patrick Kelly each had four-point games against Bucknell on March 11.  That was a career high point total for Goldstock, who got two extra-man goals during the game, and it matched Kelly's high of four points previously set against Furman on February 9.

Both Goldstock and Kelly notched their first career hat tricks in goals scored verus the Bison as well.

KELLY'S STELLAR PLAY AT THE X:  Stephen Kelly was in the midst of a stellar freshman year in all aspects of the game before breaking his wrist against Harvard on March 18.

After a tough day in the face-off circle for the Tar Heels against Notre Dame in the 11-10 loss on March 1, UNC head coach Joe Breschi turned to Kelly to handle virtually all face-off duties for Carolina in its win over Princeton on March 7.  Kelly backed that up with another good day in the circle against Bucknell on March 4 and he continued to excel in games against Duke and Harvard, winning another 26 face-offs.

The Tar Heels headed into the season being led in the face-off circle by record-setting All-America R.G. Keenan.  But Keenan suffered a leg injury in the season opener against Furman and missed six games before taking two face-offs against Harvard and four against Maryland.   

In the interim, Breschi looked to senior Frankie Kelly, freshman Stephen Kelly and sophomore Brent Armstrong to step into the void after Keenan's injury.

Stephen Kelly won 15 of 26 face-offs and recorded a game-high 13 ground balls versus Princeton.  Against Bucknell he won 14 of 18 face-offs and scooped up double digit ground balls with 10.

Kelly was again outstanding against Duke, going head-to-head against the Blue Devils' first-team All-America face-off man Brendan Fowler.  Kelly won 13 of 20 face-offs in the game and shared UNC's game-high total for ground balls with five.

Against Harvard, Stephen Kelly won 13 of 25 face-offs for the Tar Heels and had a game-high eight ground balls for UNC.

The 15 face-off victories against Princeton were the most won in a game by a Tar Heel player since R.G. Keenan won 15 against Lehigh on May 11, 2013.  It marked the 58th time in UNC lacrosse history that a player has won as many as 15 face-offs in a game.  Kelly is the 12th different UNC player in history to win as many as 15 face-offs in a game.

The 13 ground balls by Kelly were the most in a game by a UNC player since Shane Walterhoefer had 15 against Providence on March 11, 2009.  It marked the eighth occasion that a Tar Heel player has had as many as 13 ground balls in a single game.  Kelly is the fifth different Tar Heel player to accomplish the feat.

Against Princeton and Bucknell, Kelly was the first UNC player to have back-to-back double digit ground ball games since R.G. Keenan had 10 against UMass on Feb. 16, 2013 and 10 against Fairfield on Feb. 23, 2013.

KEENAN'S RETURN TO THE LINEUP:  For three seasons, senior R.G. Keenan was one of the nation's top face-off men, soaring to No. 2 to UNC's all-time face-off chart and No. 3 on the Tar Heels's ground ball charts.

Keenan started the 2014 season strong with an 11-for-17 performance at the X against Furman.  But he suffered a lower body injury against the Paladins and missed the next six games before taking six draws combined against Harvard and Maryland.

Keenan has returned to the lineup as Carolina's primary face-off man against Johns Hopkins and Virginia.  Keenan's percentage in those two games has not been gaudy (6 for 19 versus Hopkins, 11 for 25 versus Virginia), but he has won the key face-offs in both games.

After being dominated in the first half of the win at Hopkins, Keenan won four of five draws in the third quarter, helping the Tar Heels outscore the Blue Jays 8-2 in the second half of a 13-9 UNC victory.  Keenan scored the eventual game-winning goal late in the third quarter of Carolina's win at Homewood.

Last Saturday against UVA, won 11 of 25 face-offs overall, but he was 4-for-5 in the fourth quarter of the game.  For the second straight game, Keenan scored the game-winning goal.  After Steve Pontrello tied the game at 10-10 with 2:33 to play, Keenan won the ensuing face-off and scored five seconds later for the game-winning tally.

TWO TAR HEELS ON TEWAARATON WATCH LIST:  A pair of standout Tar Heel offensive players were named on Februrary 27 to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List presented by Panama Jack.  Junior attackman Joey Sankey and junior midfielder Chad Tutton were both named to the 50-man Watch List.

The list includes two players who were finalists in 2013 - Tom Schreiber of Princeton and Lyle Thompson of Albany.

UNC's Marcus Holman was also a finalist for the award in 2013, only the second in UNC history.  The other Tar Heel was Jed Prossner.

The field will be narrowed to 25 individuals on April 24.  The five men's finalists will be announced on May 8.

CREIGHTON A CANDIDATE FOR SENIOR CLASS AWARD:  Senior tri-captain Ryan Creighton (West Chester, Pa.) was named one of 20 candidates for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award.  The award annually honors one men's lacrosse player who exemplifies four areas of excellence -- community, classroom, character and competition.

Creighton was seeking to become the fourth Tar Heel student-athlete in history to win a Senior CLASS Award.  Tyler Hansbrough won the award for men's basketball in 2009, Ali Hawkins for women's soccer in 2010 and Kealia Ohai for women's soccer in 2013.  Creighton was not on the list of 10 finalists for the awards that was named on April 3.

ANOTHER SEASON OPENING WIN:  Carolina's victory over Furman on February 9 was the 16th in a row for the Tar Heels in a season opener.  UNC has won every season opener since the 1999 season.  Carolina's last loss in a season opener came on February 22, 1988 when the Tar Heels fell to Butler 13-12 at Fetzer Field.

HAT TRICKS FOR THE HEELS:  UNC junior Joey Sankey recorded hat tricks in each of the first three games of the season for the Tar Heels and added another against Bucknell and a five goal game in the win over Johns Hopkins.  Most recently against Virginia he scored three goals, giving him six hat tricks for the 2014 season

Those six three-goal games ran his career total to 14, the most of any current Tar Heel.  Junior midfielder Chad Tutton notched his ninth career hat trick in the victory over Manhattan and his 10th in the victory at Princeton.

Also recording a hat trick versus the Jaspers was Tutton's fellow Canadian, freshman midfielder Shane Simpson.

Junior Jimmy Bitter notched his first hat trick of the season against Dartmouth and followed that up with another three-goal performance against Notre Dame.  He also tallied three goals against Duke, giving him 11 hat tricks for his career.

Against Princeton on March 7, senior attackman Pat Foster recorded his third career hat trick and the first since his freshman year when he recorded them against Maryland and Lehigh.

Luke Goldstock and Patrick Kelly each put up their first career hat tricks against Bucknell last Tueday.

Midfielders Michael Tagliaferri and Steve Pontrello have each recorded their first career hat tricks, against Duke and Harvard, respectively.

CAROLINA AS A TEAM IN THE NCAA STATISTICS:  Eleven games into the 2014 season, Carolina ranks in the Top 15 of NCAA team statistical categories in 11 different areas.  Those team rankings are as follows:

Assists Per Game:  15th, 6.91

Ground Balls Per Game:  6th, 34.09

Man Down Defense:  12th, 0.711

Man-Up Offense:  8th, 0.500

Points Per Game:  4th, 21.18

Scoring Defense:  6th, 7.73

Scoring Margin:  1st, 6.55

Scoring Offense:  3rd, 14.27

Shot Percentage:  8th, 0.337

Turnovers Per Game:  4th, 11.91

Winning Percentage:  5th, 0.818

BURKE IN THE NCAA STATS:  North Carolina sophomore goalkeeper Kieran Burke, who has started 28 straight games for UNC over the past two seasons, is ranked eighth in NCAA Division I in goals against average at 7.93 and he is ninth in save percentage at 0.569.

KUDOS TO MARCUS:  The Tar Heel lacrosse program received great news on February 5 when 2013 alumnus Marcus Holman was named to the U.S. National Team that will play this coming summer in the 2014 World Lacrosse Games in Denver, Colo.  Holman is one of 30 U.S. players named to the team and one of six attackmen chosen.  The U.S. National Team is being coached this year by Furman head mentor Richie Meade, a 1976 University of North Carolina graduate.

Holman is the son of UNC assistant coach Brian Holman and brother of former Tar Heel lacrosse player Matt Holman and current UNC women's lacrosse standout Sydney Holman.

THE POLLS:  The two national polls were released this past Monday.  North Carolina is ranked fourth this week in the USILA coaches' poll. Carolina is also fourth in the Warrior media poll sponsored by Inside Lacrosse.

DEFENSE DID ITS JOB IN OPENING THREE GAMES:  Carolina limited Furman to three goals in the Tar Heels' season-opening victory over the Paladins February 9 and surrendered only five against the Manhattan Jaspers and the Dartmouth Big Green in the following two matchups.

The three goals allowed against Furman were the fewest goals allowed in a game by Carolina since March 18, 2008 when the Tar Heels beat Marist 12-3 at Fetzer Field.

UNC held each of its first three opponents to five goals or less.  The last time UNC accomplished that feat was the 2010 season when it limited it first four opponents of the campaign to five goals or less behind a defense led by National Defenseman of the Year Ryan Flanagan.

Carolina heads into the game against Syracuse with the sixth-ranked scoring defense in the nation, allowing just 7.73 goals per game.

SIX DOUBLE DIGIT SCORING GAMES:  North Carolina has scored in double digits in 10 of the first 11 games of the 2014 season, including the first six games in a row.  The last time Carolina did that to open a season was 2007 when UNC scored 10 or more goals in the opening seven games of the season.

Dating back to last season, Carolina has scored in double digits in goals in 22 of the past 24 games.

Duke is the only opponent to hold Carolina under 10 goals in the past 24 games. The Blue Devils beat Carolina 11-8 on March 13, 2013 and 9-8 in overtime on March 15, 2014.

BURKE EXCELS IN THE CAGE:  North Carolina sophomore goalkeeper Kieran Burke started his 28th successive game for Carolina in the Tar Heels' match against Virginia last Saturday.  After a subpar performance in UNC's 13-11 win at Princeton on March 7, Burke regained his form against the Bucknell, making 12 saves and allowing only four goals in 52:10 of play.

Burke followed that up with two more solid performances.  He made 15 saves and allowed only nine goals against Duke and had 10 saves and 10 goals allowed against Harvard.

Against Maryland, Burke made 12 saves while allowing just eight goals and he made 10 saves for the Tar Heels in their 13-9 win at Johns Hopkins and 11 saves in Carolina's victory over Virginia

Burke has been excellent for the Tar Heels this season.  In 642 minutes of action he has made 107 saves and allowed 81 goals.  He has a save percentage of .569 and a goals against average of 7.93.

SCORING DROUGHT FOR PALADINS:  The North Carolina defense held Furman scoreless for a period of 34:12 in a 19-3 victory over the Paladins on February 9.  After Ben Levin scored for the Paladins with 2:49 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 2-2, the Tar Heels kept Furman off the scoreboard until 13:37 remained in the game when Kenny Meinsen scored for the Paladins.

The last time a Carolina team had held an opponent scoreless for that long a period of time was April 13, 2013 when UNC blanked Hofstra for the last 34:38 of the game in a 14-5 victory over the Pride at Hempstead, N.Y.

OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION:  North Carolina's 21-goal offensive effort versus Manhattan on February 16 marked the largest goal output for UNC in head coach Joe Breschi's six years as head coach.  The Tar Heels had scored 20 goals in a game three times previously during his tenure.

The 21 goals were the most for UNC in a game since April 26, 2001 when UNC beat NCAA Division II school Pfeiffer 27-7 at Henry Stadium.  The last time Carolina had scored more than 21 goals against an NCAA Division I team was April 16, 1997 in a 22-2 victory at VMI.

UNC has scored as many as 20 goals in a game five times during Coach Breschi's tenure including twice this season (Manhattan and Bucknell).

TUTTON'S CONSISTENT SCORING PRESENCE:  Junior midfielder Chad Tutton has scored goals in 22 of 24 games dating back to March 9, 2013.  He had a 19-game goal scoring streak snapped when he failed to score in UNC's game at Duke on March 15, 2014.

Tutton has scored goals in 34 of the past 37 games he has played in.  The only three games in that streak when he did not score came at Notre Dame on March 2, 2013, at Duke on March 15, 2014 and against Virginia on April 5, 2014.

The stellar Canadian midfielder scored in 12 successive games from March 21, 2012 through February 23, 2013 prior to having his scoring streak broken against the Fighting Irish last year.  He began a 19-game scoring streak against Princeton a week later.

Just a junior, Tutton has two of the 15 longest goal-scoring streaks in Tar Heel lacrosse lore.

His 19-game goal-scoring streak is the seventh longest in UNC history and his previous 13-game streak equaled the 14th longest by a Tar Heel.

POINTS STREAKS FOR JOEY AND JIMMY:  Carolina junior attackmen Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey have two of the 11 longest point scoring streaks currently active in NCAA Division I.

Bitter has recorded points in 37 successive games dating back to March 16, 2012.  That is the ninth longest streak in the nation.

Sankey has recorded at least one point in a game in 32 consecutive contests.  His scoring streak began on April 20, 2012.  Sankey's streak is the 11th longest in NCAA Division I at the present time.

Sankey and Bitter were the two fastest Tar Heels in history to reach the 50 goal total in their careers.  Both are moving up the career points charts as well.  Sankey has 147 career points and Bitter joined the 100-point club at UNC with his four-point performance against Notre Dame on March 1 and now has 119 career points.

Sankey has 85 career goals and Bitter has 78.

MORE ON JIMMY AND JOEY:  Since entering the Tar Heel starting lineup on a full-time basis on March 18, 2012 versus Dartmouth, Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey have been remarkably consistent performers, especially when paired with their old line mate, Marcus Holman, 2013 Tewaraaton Trophy Finalist, during 2012 & 2013.

The duo has continued that consistent play in 2014 even without Holman, UNC's career points leader.

In addition to his long point streak, Sankey has scored goals in 29 of the past 32 games he has played in.  Bitter, who has a longer point streak than his line mate, has scored goals in 33 of the past 35 games.  He also has 11 career hat tricks, a total just behind fellow junior Sankey, who has 14, and one more than junior middie Chad Tutton, who has 10.

KEENAN PASSES 600 MARK IN FACE-OFF WINS:  Senior midfielder R.G. Keenan started his senior season with an outstanding performance at the X against the Furman Paladins.  He won 11 of 17 face-offs.  Keenan's 11 wins gave him 605 face-off victories in his career.

Heading into the Syracuse game, Keenan ranks second on the Tar Heel record board with 622 career face-off wins.  The only player he is behind is Shane Walterhoefer, who won 723 face-offs from 2006-09.

Brothers Frankie and Stephen Kelly combined to win five of eight face-offs against Furman, giving the Tar Heels a solid 1-2-3 punch at draws.  Keenan missed six games due to injury, leaving responsibility for the face-off duties to the Brothers Kelly.  Keenan returned to the lineup against Harvard, taking two face-off attempts on the night.

R.G. SPARKS HEELS IN SECOND HALF VERSUS BLUE JAYS:  Although R.G. Keenan won only 6 of 19 face-offs against Johns Hopkins on March 29, it was his play in the second half which helped spark UNC's comeback against the Blue Jays.

Keenan won four of five face-offs in the third quarter when UNC outscored Hopkins 5-0, turning a 7-5 halftime deficit into a 10-7 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Keenan's goal with 1:55 left in the third quarter proved to be the eventual game-winning tally in the 13-9 victory.

It was the first goal of the season for Keenan and the 12th goal of his career.

Last Saturday against Virginia, Keenan won 11 of 25 face-offs, including four of five in the fourth quarter in the 11-10 win over the Cavaliers.  Keenan also scored the game-winning goal for the second straight game with 2:28 left in the fourth quarter.  It was Keenan's 13th career goal.

FRANKIE'S CAREER DAY:  Senior midfielder Frankie Kelly, easily one of the most personally popular of all Tar Heel players, stepped in for R.G. Keenan in the Manhattan match and the Tar Heels did not miss a beat.

Kelly had a career high for face-off wins in a game, going 14 of 18 from the X.  Kelly's previous career high was 12 wins versus Dartmouth on March 21, 2012.  Kelly won 77.7 percent of his face-offs against the Jaspers, a career best percentage.  He won 72.7 percent in a match against Presbyterian on April 14, 2012.

Kelly also was excellent in the face-off circle in the Tar Heels' next game versus Dartmouth.  He won 11 of 18 face-offs and scooped up five ground balls.  The 11 face-off wins were the third most he has ever won in a match.

His younger brother, Stephen Kelly, a freshman, was also excellent against the Big Green, winning 7 of 8 face-offs to go along with seven ground balls, a game high on the stat sheet.

PLAYING ITS DEPTH:  One of the plusses of posting comfortable wins over Furman, Manhattan and Dartmouth to start the season was the fact Coach Joe Breschi could play his roster in the three wins and get plenty of experience for his younger players.  Thirty-eight players saw action for the Tar Heels against Furman and Manhattan and 36 played in the win over the Big Green.  The Tar Heels continued to play a deep roster versus Notre Dame as 25 players saw action.  Carolina played a slightly shorter bench in the win at Princeton, employing 23 players.

In the win over Bucknell, UNC was able to get 34 players on the field.  Carolina played 23 players against Duke, 27 players against Harvard, 23 players versus Maryland, 25 players versus Johns Hopkins and 24 players versus Virginia.

UNC VERSUS IVY LEAGUE FOES:  Harvard, who Carolina defeated 13-10 on March 18, was the third Ivy League team the Tar Heels have faced this season.  Carolina beat the Dartmouth Big Green 18-5 on February 22 and the Princeton Tigers 13-11 on March 7.

Carolina's records versus Ivy League teams are as follows:  Brown (3-0), Cornell (3-4), Dartmouth (11-3), Harvard (2-1), Pennsylvania (8-5), Princeton (9-7) and Yale (0-3).  UNC is 36-23 all-time against Ivy League squads.

HEAD COACH JOE BRESCHI:  Joe Breschi is now in his sixth season as the head coach at his alma mater.  Breschi has led the Tar Heels to double-digit win totals and NCAA Tournament bids in each of his first five seasons in Chapel Hill.

He earned his 150th career coaching victory when Carolina beat Virginia in the ACC Tournament championship match on April 28, 2013.  He was named ACC Coach of the Year in both 2010 and 2013.

Breschi Coaching Facts:

  • 68-27 in five seasons at UNC (71.6)
  • 160-90 in 17 seasons overall (64.0)
  • 8-11 in ACC regular-season games
  • 4-4 in ACC Tournament games
  • 3-5 in NCAA Tournament games at UNC; 4-8 in NCAA Tournament games overall
  • 15-12 in one-goal games at UNC
  • 36-24 versus ranked teams at UNC; 32-3 versus unranked teams at UNC
  • 55-9 versus non-conference teams at UNC
  • 42-8 in home games at UNC

13 WINS IN 2013:  North Carolina won 13 matches last season.  That was the most wins in a season since Coach Joe Breschi's squad won 13 games in his second season as head coach in 2010.

Those two 13-win seasons gave Tar Heels their most wins in a single campaign since the 1993 team went 14-2.

MOST GOALS AGAINST A TOP 10 TEAM IN 17 YEARS:  Carolina's 18 goals against Duke in the ACC Tournament semifinals on April 26, 2013 were the most it had scored against a Top 10-ranked team since April 6, 1996 when the Tar Heels beat #1-ranked Virginia 19-18 at Fetzer Field.

TUTTON'S MIDFIELD GOALS:  Midfielder Chad Tutton scored 28 goals in his sophomore campaign, ending the season on a 13-game goal scoring streak. That was the most goals by a Tar Heel midfielder since Sean DeLaney scored 35 goals in 2009.

WINNING THE ONE-GOAL GAMES:  Carolina has a record of 15-12 in games decided by one goal in Coach Joe Breschi's six seasons as head coach.  That included a 4-3 mark in one-goal games last season.

SECOND-LONGEST WINNING STREAK IN 20 YEARS:  North Carolina won 10 successive games during the 2013 season before falling to Denver in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinal.  That equaled the longest winning streak for UNC since the 1992 season.

UNC won all 16 games during the 1991 season and then followed that up with wins in the first two games of 1992 before its 18-game winning streak was halted at Syracuse.  The longest winning streak since that time came in 2010 when the Tar Heels opened the season with 10 straight wins en route to a final record of 13-3 and an NCAA Tournament quarterfinal appearance.  Carolina matched that winning streak during the 2013 campaign.

HIGHEST SCORING AVERAGE IN 17 YEARS:  North Carolina averaged 13.35 goals per game last season.  That was the highest scoring average for the Tar Heels since the 1996 team scored 15.29 goals per game.  UNC scored 227 goals in 17 games last season.

Carolina is averaging 14.27 goals per game to date during the 2014 season.

JUNIOR TRIO CLIMBING CAREER GOAL & POINT CHARTS:  Junior attackmen Joey Sankey and Jimmy Bitter and junior midfielder Chad Tutton continue to climb UNC's career charts in goals, assists and points.

Following are the career ranks for the talented junior trio in those three areas.

Goals

Joey Sankey, Tied 20th, 85 career goals

Jimmy Bitter, Tied 26th, 78 career goals

Chad Tutton, 36th, 63 career goals

Assists

Joey Sankey, Tied 16th, 62 career assists

Points

Joey Sankey, 18th, 147 career points

Jimmy Bitter, 27th, 119 career points

Chad Tutton, Tied 53rd, 79 career points

Jimmy Bitter finished his sophomore year with 59 goals while Joey Sankey wrapped up his second year with 58 goals.

Those were the two highest goal totals by any sophomore in UNC lacrosse history.

CAROLINA SCORING TIDBITS:  Following are some details on top UNC players and their personal scoring streaks heading into the Syracuse game.

Jimmy Bitter

  • Has scored a goal in 32 of the past 34 games
  • Has recorded a point in 37 successive games (streak began March 16, 2012)

Joey Sankey

  • Has recorded a point in 32 successive games (streak began April 20, 2012)
  • Has scored goals in 29 of the past 33 games

Chad Tutton

  • Has recorded a point in 36 of the past 38 games
  • Has scored a goal in 21 of past 23 games and 34 of the past 37 games

UNC's CAREER HAT TRICKS:  Joey Sankey leads all current Tar Heel players with 14 career hat tricks.  Jimmy Bitter with 11 and Chad Tutton with 10 rank right behind Sankey.

The only other Tar Heels will career hat tricks are Pat Foster with three and Ryan Creighton, Shane Simpson, Luke Goldstock, Patrick Kelly, Michael Tagliaferri and Steve Pontrello with one each.

KEENAN'S UPDATED FACEOFF & GROUND BALL NUMBERS:  R.G. Keenan has won 622 face-offs in his career.  That is the second most face-off wins in UNC history.  Shane Walterhoefer (2006-09) is the UNC career leader with 723 face-off victories.

Keenan has 336 career ground balls, the third most in UNC history.  He trails only Jude Collins (412) and Shane Walterhoefer (386).

ANOTHER DOUBLE DIGIT WIN SEASON UNDER COACH BRESCHI:  Despite playing against one of the nation's toughest schedules in 2013, the Tar Heels reached a double digit win total for the fifth successive year under the tutelage of head coach Joe Breschi, who was hired in June 2008.  The Tar Heels finished with a 13-4 mark.

Breschi is the first head coach in UNC history to post double digit win totals in each of his first five years mentoring the Tar Heels. Other than Breschi, Dave Klarmann (1991-94) is the only other coach to win 10 or more games in each of his first four seasons.

Under Breschi's leadership, UNC went 12-6 in 2009, 13-3 in 2010, 10-6 in 2011, 11-6 in 2012 and 13-4 in 2013.  Prior to 2009-13, the last time Carolina patched together five successive seasons with 10 or more wins was 1989-94 when the Tar Heels had at least double digits in wins six years in a row.

Contrast the current success with the fact over a 12-year span from 1997-2008, Carolina got to the 10-win plateau only twice, going 10-5 in 2004 and 10-6 in 2007.

Carolina needs one more win in the 2014 season to reach double digits in victories for the sixth straight year under Breschi.

UNC VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS UNDER COACH BRESCHI:  North Carolina has played nationally-ranked opponents 60 times in Joe Breschi's six-year coaching tenure.  UNC is 36-24 in those games.  Conversely, the Tar Heels are 32-3 against unranked opponents in his six seasons.

Breschi is 68-27 overall at Carolina in his six seasons as head coach.  During Breschi's tenure, UNC's only losses to unranked teams came to Ohio State in 2011 and to Lehigh and Pennsylvania in 2012.

CAROLINA'S IMPROVEMENT IN ONE-GOAL DECISIONS: Prior to Joe Breschi taking over as head coach in 2009, UNC went 1-7 in games decided by one goal from midway through the 2004 season through the end of the 2008 campaign.

Carolina has improved tremendously in one-goal games since Breschi arrived for the 2009 season.  UNC is 15-12 in games decided by one goal over the past six years.

THREE TAR HEELS WERE CHOSEN IN 2014 MLL DRAFT:  Three seniors on the 2014 University of North Carolina men's lacrosse team were selected January 14 in the Major League Lacrosse collegiate draft.  The draft was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center in conjunction with the annual convention of U.S. Lacrosse.

Senior short defensive midfielder Ryan Creighton (West Chester, Pa.) was taken in the second round of the MLL Draft.  He was the 12th pick overall in the draft and was taken by MLL's newest team, the Florida Launch.  Creighton has been named an honorable mention All-America each of the past two years and is a tri-captain of the 2014 team.

Two more Tar Heel seniors were taken in the seventh round with the first and second picks of that round.  Senior face-off man/midfielder R.G. Keenan (Perry Hall, Md.) was chosen with the 49th pick overall by the Ohio Machine, where 2013 UNC alumnus Marcus Holman currently plays. 

Senior short stick defensive midfielder Mark McNeill (West River, Md.) was also chosen in the draft's seventh round.  He was the 50th overall player taken in the draft and his rights were garnered by his home state team, defending MLL champions, Chesapeake Bayhawks.  McNeill had a breakthrough year for the Tar Heels last year, playing especially well late in the season in leading UNC to the ACC title and a berth in the NCAA quarterfinals.

FOUR TAR HEELS EARN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS:  Four current and future Tar Heel players won gold medal rings at the U19 World Championships in Finland in July 2012.  Sophomore midfielders Brent Armstrong and Steve Pontrello, redshirt freshman midfielder Michael Tagliaferri and freshman midfielder Stephen Kelly all played for the U.S. side.  Carolina junior midfielder Chad Tutton was a member of Team Canada, which captured the silver medal.

CAROLINA'S STELLAR MARK IN NON-CONFERENCE GAMES:  UNC's record in non-conference games continues to be one of the best in the nation over the past nine seasons.  The Tar Heels have won 76 of their past 88 games against non-conference teams dating back to April 15, 2006.

In Joe Breschi's six seasons as head coach, the Tar Heels are 55-9 against non-conference teams.  The only losses were to Notre Dame in 2009, to Ohio State and Johns Hopkins in 2011, to Lehigh, Pennsylvania and Denver in 2012 and to Massachusetts, Notre Dame and Denver in 2013.

CAROLINA'S DOUBLE DIGIT SCORING GAMES:  In Coach Joe Breschi's six years as head lacrosse coach at UNC, Carolina's success has clearly been tied to hitting the 10-goal plateau in a game.  In fact UNC's 11-10 loss to Notre Dame on March 1, 2014, marked only the 10th time in Breschi's coaching tenure that the Tar Heels have lost when they have reached the 10-goal plateau.

UNC has scored at least 10 goals in a game in 71 of 95 games under Coach Breschi's direction dating back to the opening game of the 2009 season. Carolina is 61-10 in those 71 games, losing only 11-10 to Virginia on April 4, 2009, 15-13 to Duke on April 26, 2009, 12-11 to Duke on May 17, 2009, 11-10 to Virginia on April 9, 2011, 13-11 to Duke on March 16, 2012, 15-10 to Virginia on April 7, 2012, 16-14 to Denver on May 12, 2012, 12-11 to Massachusetts on February 16, 2013, 12-11 to Denver on May 12, 2013 and 11-10 to Notre Dame on March 1, 2014.

In the 24 games under Coach Breschi's tutelage in which the Tar Heels have not reached the 10-goal mark, UNC has not fared nearly as well as when it scores in double figures. In fact, the Tar Heels' record in those 24 games is just 7-17.

During the 2013 season, UNC scored double digits in goals in 15 of 17 games.  The exceptions were a 10-9 triple overtime loss at Notre Dame and an 11-8 home loss to Duke in the regular season.

In the 2014 season, UNC has scored in double digit in goals in 10 of 11 games, missing only in a 9-8 game against Duke on March 15, 2014.

NEAR DOMINANCE AT HOME UNDER BRESCHI:  UNC is 42-8 in home games in Coach Joe Breschi's six years at the helm of the Tar Heels.  That's a winning percentage of 84.0 percent.

UNC's only home losses during Breschi's four-year tenure include regular-season and ACC Tournament games to Duke in 2009, a regular-season loss to Duke in 2011, an NCAA Tournament loss to Maryland in 2011, regular-season losses to Lehigh and Virginia in 2012, an NCAA Tournament loss to Denver in 2012, a regular-season loss to Duke in 2013 and a regular-season loss to Notre Dame in 2014.

CAROLINA IN HOME GAMES:  North Carolina finished the 2014 regular season with an all-time record of 267-120-2 in home games. That included a 6-1 home record in 2014.

UNC has a 68.9 winning percentage all-time in history in home games.

THE ALL-TIME RECORD: North Carolina has an all-time record of 453-275-2 in the sport of men's lacrosse. That is a winning percentage of .622.

THREE TAR HEELS NAMED PRESEASON ALL-ACC:  The ACC coaches tapped three Tar Heels as 2014 preseason All-ACC choices.  The trio included attackmen Joey Sankey, midfielder Chad Tutton and short-stick defensive midfielder Ryan Creighton.

FACE-OFF YEARBOOK PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAS:  Six Tar Heel players notched spots on the Face-Off Yearbook preseason All-America Team for 2014.

Chad Tutton was named first team in the midfield, Joey Sankey second team on attack, Ryan Creighton third team in the short stick defensive midfield, Jimmy Bitter honorable mention on attack, Kieran Burke honorable mention in the goal and Evan Connell honorable mention on defense.

WINS OVER NUMBER ONE:  Carolina's 11-8 victory over Maryland on March 22 at Kenan Stadium marked the third straight year in which Carolina has beaten a team ranked #1 in the nation.  From 1997 through 2011, Carolina had failed to win any games against No. 1-ranked squads.

North Carolina's 10-8 win at top-ranked Maryland March 23, 203 resulted in a piece of history for the Tar Heel historical archives.  It marked the first time in school history that Carolina had beaten teams ranked #1 in the nation in back-to-back seasons.

Prior to defeating the Terrapins, the Tar Heels' last win against a No. 1 team came on April 1, 2012 when Carolina defeated top-ranked Johns Hopkins 13-9 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in the Big City Classic.

That win over Johns Hopkins had been an accomplishment in itself as prior to that win over the Blue Jays, Carolina had gone 16 years without beating a #1 team.  On that occasion, Carolina outlasted top-ranked Virginia 19-18 on April 6, 1996 at Fetzer Field.

2014 GAME SUMMARIES

TAR HEELS RALLY LATE AGAINST WAHOOS:  North Carolina senior midfielder R.G. Keenan has a habit of scoring late-game, momentum-shifting goals in his career for the Tar Heels.  He did it again on Saturday, April 5 on Senior Day at Fetzer Field as the #5 Tar Heels defeated the #9 Virginia Cavaliers 11-10 at sun-drenched Fetzer Field in men's lacrosse action.

Before a near capacity crowd of 4,952 fans, Keenan scored off his own face-off win with 2:28 remaining in the fourth quarter to rally the Tar Heels past the Cavaliers 11-10.  Carolina improved to 9-2 on the season with the win and evened its ACC record at 2-2.

Carolina has now won four games in a row over the Cavaliers, the first time they have done that since 1990-92.  The Wahoos had also won the last seven games between the two teams that had been decided by a single goal.  Carolina's one-goal win on Saturday was the first time it beat the Cavaliers in that scenario since a 19-18 victory in 1996.

It was a classic ACC battle in which neither side was ever able to gain clear footing.  UNC twice led by a pair of goals in the first half.  But after the teams were deadlocked 5-5 at intermission neither team held more than a one-goal lead for the entirety of the second half.

Carolina carried a 9-8 edge into the fourth quarter but Virginia tied the game on Mark Cockerton's fourth goal of the match with 7:24 to play.  After Matt Barrett made his 13th save of the game on a shot by UNC's Shane Simpson with 6:06 to play, the Wahoos went on a long possession, shooting wide three times before UVA head coach Dom Starsia called timeout with 4:10 to play.  After another shot by Cockerton was off the mark, the Wahoos took a 10-9 lead with 3:38 to play as Greg Coholan scored his 10th goal of the season, assisted by Owen Van Arsdale.

Carolina won the ensuring face-off and worked the ball around for more than a minute before Pat Foster, who had a career high four assists, found a cutting Steve Pontrello all alone in front of the goal.  Pontrello's 11th goal of the season tied the game at 10-10 with 2:33 to play.

Keenan, one of 12 seniors playing their final games at Fetzer Field, was perfect on the pinch and pop on the ensuing face-off as he seized the ground ball and went straight down the field and scored past Barrett just five seconds later.  It was his second goal of the season.  He also had the game-winner in the win at Johns Hopkins the previous Saturday.

The game was far from over, however.  Virginia gained possession on the next face-off and a shot by Cockerton went wide with 1:51 to play.  Nineteen seconds later, senior Ryan Creighton forced a turnover by James Pannell and senior Mark McNeill scooped up the ground ball and cleared successfully for UNC.

Carolina was able to hold the ball until a timer-on violation with 19 seconds left gave the ball to the Wahoos.  But the Cavs were unable to clear as Ryan Creighton gathered in the ground ball off an errant pass by Chris LaPierre and ran off the final nine seconds before a raucous, partisan crowd.

Joey Sankey led the Tar Heels with three goals and two assists while Jimmy Bitter and Steve Pontrello each scored twice for Carolina.  Pat Foster's four assists broke his previous career high of three set against Penn State his sophomore year and Bucknell earlier this year.  Shane Simpson, Keenan, Luke Goldstock and Walker Chafee all had single goals for UNC.  Single assists went to Spencer Parks and Chad Tutton.

TAR HEELS RALLY PAST BLUE JAYS AT HOMEWOOD:  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 March 29.  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 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.

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 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.

CAROLINA DEFEATS TOP-RANKED MARYLAND:  Sixth-ranked North Carolina's efficient offense, combined with an outstanding defensive effort, led the Tar Heels to an 11-8 victory over top-ranked Maryland in men's lacrosse action March 22 at Kenan Stadium before a crowd of 6,135.

This marked the second straight year UNC has knocked the Terps when they were the No. 1 team in the nation.  A year ago, Carolina beat the Terps at Byrd Stadium 10-8 on March 23, 2013.  It also marked the third successive year Carolina has beaten a #1 team (it also beat Johns Hopkins in 2012) after having not knocked one off since 1996.

North Carolina ran its offense well, scoring 11 times on 31 shots and committing only 10 turnovers.  UNC also benefitted from a perfect 16 for 16 in the clearing game and the Tar Heels scored twice on three EMO chances.

Both teams exhibited balanced offensive attacks.  Pat Foster and Joey Sankey each had two goals and two assists for UNC and Shane Simpson had two goals and a helper.  Chad Tutton, Jimmy Bitter, Spencer Parks, Jake Bailey and Walker Chafee also scored for UNC.  An extra-man goal by Chafee with 3:40 to play in the second quarter put Carolina ahead for good at 5-4.  Maryland crept within one goal three times in the second half but could never get an equalizer.

CAROLINA BOUNCES BACK WITH WIN OVER CRIMSON:  North Carolina's sixth-ranked men's lacrosse team ended Harvard's three-game winning streak March 18 by a 13-10 score as both teams survived frigid conditions at UNC's Navy Turf Field.  Temperatures hovered around 35 degrees on an overcast night.

UNC's midfielders stepped up big in a game where Harvard's defense did everything they could to stifle Carolina's powerful attack.  Ten of Carolina's 13 goals came from midfielders as the Tar Heels improved to 6-2 on the season.  After starting 1-2, the Crimson won three in a row before facing the Tar Heels as they fall to 4-3.

The difference in the game was a 4-0 scoring run by the Tar Heels in the first six minutes of the second half as UNC increased a 6-5 halftime lead to 10-5.  Pat Foster opened the second half to put UNC up by two. Walker Chafee ran off two goals and Chad Tutton another, all in a span of just 38 seconds, giving UNC a 10-5 lead with 9:54 left in the third quarter.

TAR HEELS DROP OVERTIME HEARTBREAKER AT DUKE:  Fourth-ranked Duke went on a 4-1 run over the last 13 minutes of the game to earn a 9-8 overtime win over fifth-ranked North Carolina in front of 3,887 fans at Koskinen Stadium March 15.  Jordan Wolf scored his fourth goal of the game 1:26 into overtime to lift the Blue Devils to victory in the rivalry game.

Wolf was involved in five of Duke's nine goals, spoiling an outstanding defensive effort by UNC which held Duke to single digits in goals for only the second time in the last 15 meetings.  Conversely, UNC was held to single digits in goals for the first time in a little over a year, an 11-8 Duke win in Chapel Hill last year.

Wolf's four goals and one assist led Duke and Kyle Keenan added a hat trick for the Blue Devils who scored keys goals in the transition game throughout the day.  Seven of Duke's nine tallies were assisted goals.

North Carolina had a pair of players with hat tricks as Jimmy Bitter and Michael Tagliaferri each scored three times.  Joey Sankey had UNC's only other two goals.  Greg McBride had two assists.

Both goalkeepers were outstanding on the day as Luke Aaron made 15 saves for Duke and Kieran Burke made 15 saves for UNC.

UNC'S OFFENSE EXPLODES IN VICTORY OVER BISON:  The fourth-ranked University of North Carolina men's lacrosse team outscored Bucknell 18-2 over the last 48:02 of the game to emerge with a 20-4 win over the Bison on a beautiful and sunny March 11 afternoon at Fetzer Field.

The Tar Heels, ranked #5 Warrior Inside Lacrosse and #4 by the USILA, improved to 5-1 on the season with the win over the Bison as the two teams met for the first time since 2003.  Bucknell has lost three matches in a row and is now 2-4.

Joey Sankey, Luke Goldstock and Patrick Kelly each had hat tricks for the Tar Heels in the victory.  That gives Sankey 12 for his career while Goldstock and Kelly had three-goal games for the first times as Tar Heels.  Carolina's starting attack unit of Sankey, Pat Foster and Jimmy Bitter combined to produce 15 points as Sankey had three goals and three assists, Foster two goals and three assists and Bitter two goals and two assists.  Foster's three assists matched his career high initially set against Penn State on February 11, 2012.

FOURTH QUARTER RALLY LIFTS TAR HEELS PAST TIGERS:  Pat Foster and Chad Tutton each recorded hat tricks and Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey each had four points as 6th-ranked North Carolina defeated 13th-ranked Princeton 13-11 at Sherrerd Field at Class of 1952 Stadium on Friday, March 7.  The game was played before a crowd of 1,717 fans and a national television audience on ESPNU.

Tutton recorded his second hat trick of the season and 10th of his career in the win over the Tigers.  For the second straight year, the junior midfielder from Courtice, Ontario scored the game-winning goal against Princeton.  He scored with 3:50 to play in the game to break an 11-11 tie as Carolina went on to beat the Tigers for the fifth straight season.

A year ago, Tutton scored the game-winner against the Tigers with three seconds to play as the Tar Heels won 16-15 at Fetzer Field.

North Carolina had three-goal leads in the game in the first quarter and the third quarter.  Princeton erased both of those leads with four-goal runs, the latter which put the Tigers up 11-10 with 14 minutes to play in the game.  UNC's Shane Simpson tied the game for the Heels with 10:09 to play before goals by Tutton and Jimmy Bitter gave the Tar Heels their final two-goal cushion.

UNC DROPS FIRST GAME OF SEASON TO FIGHTING IRISH:  North Carolina suffered its opening loss of the season when it fell to Notre Dame 11-10 at Fetzer Field March 1.  This marked the second straight year that the Fighting Irish have rallied late to beat the Tar Heels.

UNC led 8-3 midway through the third quarter but the Irish went on an 8-1 scoring run to take an 11-9 lead with 4:14 to play.  Jimmy Bitter, who had a hat trick, got one back for the Tar Heels but Notre Dame was able to kill most of the last four minutes off the clock and hold on for the 11-10 win.

TAR HEELS EXCEL AGAINST THE BIG GREEN:  North Carolina improved to 3-0 on the season with a workmanlike 18-5 victory over the Dartmouth Big Green at Fetzer Field on Saturday, February 22.

Carolina improved to 11-3 all-time against the Big Green and won its 11th game in a row in the series.

Carolina's 13-goal margin of victory was the largest for the Tar Heels against Dartmouth since March 25, 1990 when UNC downed the Big Green 23-5 at Fetzer Field.

The Tar Heels outshot the Big Green 52-20 in the match and led in ground balls 43-26 and face-offs 18-9.

Offensively, the Tar Heels got a big game from Joey Sankey with three goals and four assists as he tied his career highs for assists and points in a match.  Jimmy Bitter kicked in with a hat trick for Carolina while Pat Foster, Chad Tutton, Michael Tagliaferri and Walker Chafee each recorded a pair of goals.

Senior Frankie Kelly was a positive factor for the Tar Heels at the face-off X as he won 11 of 18 draws and scooped up five ground balls.  His younger brother, Stephen, a freshman was also stellar in the face-off circle with 7 of 8 face-off wins and seven ground balls.

Sophomore Kieran Burke made his 20th straight start in goal for Carolina and made eight saves while allowing only three goals in 49:04 of action.  Duncan Saunders finished up in goal for the Tar Heels.

TAR HEELS TAKE CARE OF MANHATTAN:  Carolina won its eighth straight home opener with a 21-5 win over Manhattan on Sunday, February 16 at the Navy Field Turf facility in the first ever meeting between the two teams.

Just as it did against Furman the previous Sunday, the Tar Heels came out as a serious bunch and built a huge first-half lead, allowing Coach Breschi to play his entire roster.  Carolina led 7-1 after the first quarter and 13-3 at halftime and then outscored the Jaspers 8-2 in the second half.

Twelve different Tar Heels scored goals against the Jaspers and nine players had assists.  Three Tar Heels - Joey Sankey, Chad Tutton and Shane Simpson - had hat tricks.  Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey each had two assists.

Carolina had a 66-28 edge in shots and a 40-29 advantage in ground balls.  Carolina was also excellent at the X, winning 18 of 30 draws despite the fact three-year face-off starter R.G. Keenan sat out the match with an injury.

CAROLINA OPENS SEASON WITH IMPRESSIVE WIN OVER FURMAN:  North Carolina opened its season with a 19-3 win at first-year program Furman on Sunday, Feb. 9.  One of the most noticeable things in the box score in UNC's victory was the balanced nature of the scoring.  The Tar Heels had 14 different players score goals in the game.  Junior attackman Joey Sankey led the Tar Heels with three goals and the other multiple goal scorers with two each were senior midfielder T.J. Kemp, sophomore attackman Spencer Parks and sophomore midfielder Brent Armstrong.

Carolina's leading scorer points wise against the Paladins was sophomore attackman Patrick Kelly who had a career-high four points.  Kelly scored a goal and led the Tar Heels with three assists.  Those were the first three assists of Kelly's career.

A quartet of freshmen scored their first career goals against the Paladins - attackman Luke Goldstock and midfielders Michael Tagliaferri, Shane Simpson and Peyton Klawinski.


UNC North Carolina Men's Lacrosse


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