COLLEGE PARK, MD. - Freshman goalkeeper Kieran Burke made 15 saves, Joey Sankey rang up a four-goal game and Jimmy Bitter chipped in with a five-point effort as #14 North Carolina defeated #1 Maryland 10-8 Saturday afternoon at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.
A crowd of 3,053 fans saw the Tar Heels beat Maryland in the regular-season matchup for the fourth straight year to improve to 5-3 on the season and 1-1 in the ACC. The Terps suffered their first loss of the campaign and are now 6-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
The Tar Heels bolted to a 9-3 lead in the game midway through the third quarter before weathering a late run by the Terrapins, who scored five of the last six goals of the game. But Burke repeatedly came up big in the cage for Carolina, matching his career high for saves, set previously against Notre Dame on March 2. With the Tar Heels holding a four-goal lead heading into the fourth quarter, Burke was at his best. The Terps outshot Carolina 15-4 in the fourth quarter as the Tar Heels struggled to hold on to the ball, committing seven turnovers in the fourth period. But Burke made six fourth-quarter saves and the Tar Heels earned a much-needed win while evening their league record.
Bitter and Sankey led the Tar Heels with five and four-point games, respectively. Bitter scored twice and passed for three assists while Marcus Holman had two goals and a helper. For the second straight game, Sankey scored four goals, matching his career high set last Monday versus Dartmouth. It was the seventh career hat trick for Sankey.
Carolina posted a win over a #1-ranked team for the first time since it beat Johns Hopkins 13-9 on April 1, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Prior to that win, Carolina had gone 16 years without a win over a #1 team dating back to a 1996 win over Virginia.
Maryland had three different players - Kevin Cooper, Owen Blye and Jake Bernhardt - score two goals apiece in the game.
The Terps finished with a 37-30 edge in shots and a 37-27 margin in ground balls. The Tar Heels had a slight edge at the face-off circle, 11-10. The Tar Heels committed 17 turnovers to only 13 for the Terps. But Burke was the margin of victory for the underdog Tar Heels with his 15 saves. Niko Amato finished with 11 saves for the Terps as Carolina put 22 of 30 shots on cage. The Tar Heels also excelled in the clearing game, being successful on all 18 tries during the game.
Maryland opened the scoring on an Owen Blye goal 47 seconds into the match. Carolina responded in quick manner, notching the next two scores. Chad Tutton scored on an outside bounce shot, with an assist by Jimmy Bitter, with 11:45 to play in the quarter and, just 57 seconds later, Joey Sankey put the Heels up when he converted a fast break off an assist by Greg McBride.
Maryland tied the game at 2-2 on Blye's unassisted goal with 9:30 left in the first quarter. But that would be the Terps' last score for 33:16. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels went on a 6-0 scoring run to go up 8-2 with 10:15 left in the third quarter.
Joey Sankey scored on a wrap around with 8:02 left in the first quarter to put the Heels up for good. The Tar Heels then went up 4-2 as Holman scored from eight yards out on the right side off an assist by Bitter with 4:59 left in the period. Fifty-four seconds later, the Heels made it 5-2 as Spencer Parks dodged out front and found the back of the net from 10 yards out.
The only goal of the second quarter came on a busted play during a timer on situation. The Tar Heels gathered in a loose ball, and with the defense out of position Bitter fed Holman for the second time in the first half. The goal gave UNC a 6-2 lead 8:21 before intermission.
Carolina came out in the second half and scored a pair of goals in the first five minutes, attaining an edge the Terps eventually would not dig out from. Sankey beat two defenders goal line extended to score into the upper right corner at 10:58 left and then 43 seconds later Pat Foster fed a wide open Sankey on a fast break to give the Heels a six-goal cushion.
After Cooper scored for Maryland with 6:14 left in the period, Bitter notched his second goal, converting a fast break with 4:43 to play. Cooper's goal ended a 33:16 scoreless streak in the game for the Terps, the longest of the Joe Breschi coaching era. The last time the Tar Heels had held a team scoreless for that long a period was March 18, 2008 when Carolina held Marist scoreless for the final 34:04 of a 12-3 win at Fetzer Field.
Before the end of the period, Jake Bernhardt scored back-to-back unassisted goals and the Terps had some momentum entering the final period, down 9-5.
Maryland dominated possession for the opening 10 minutes of the final period but only dented the scoreboard at 12:01 on an extra-man tally by Mike Chanenchuk. Bitter responded with a goal on a high, hard shot from the right side with 5:04 to play to restore a four-goal lead. John Haus answered that goal with an extra-man tally at 3:28 and the Terps scored again with Kevin Cooper capitalizing with 26 seconds left. The Terps won the ensuing face-off but Burke notched his 15th save, and the Tar Heels salted away the victory.
The Tar Heels return home next week for a pair of games on ESPNU. Carolina hosts the Brown Bears at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Fetzer Field before taking on Johns Hopkins at 12 Noon on Saturday at Kenan Stadium.