CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Fifth-ranked North Carolina built a 16-1 lead and never looked back as the Tar Heels defeated High Point 20-8 Saturday afternoon at Fetzer Field in men's lacrosse action before a crowd of 1,942 fans.
Fifteen different Tar Heels scored goals in the game as Carolina improved to 10-3 on the season with its seventh successive win. The seven-game winning streak is the second longest for UNC since 1993, topped only by a 10-game winning streak to begin the 2010 campaign. First-year program High Point dropped to 3-11 on the campaign despite playing the Tar Heels even in the second half on the scoreboard.
Eight Tar Heels played their final regular-season home games at Fetzer Field - midfielder Sean Taylor, attackman Stevie Kirkup, midfielder Davey Emala, defenseman Kieran McDonald, attackman Stephen Burns, goalkeeper Steven Rastivo, midfielder William Scroggs and attackman Marcus Holman.
UNC had five multi-goal scorers with Marcus Holman, Jimmy Bitter, Joe Costigan, Joey Sankey and Patrick Kelly each scoring two goals. Stephen Burns led the Tar Heels with two assists. For the second straight game the Tar Heels had a limited number of assists as there were only five helpers on 20 goals. Last Saturday against Hofstra UNC had five assists on 14 goals.
Other goal scorers for Carolina were Will Campbell, Ryan Creighton, T.J. Kemp, Matt Shannon, Sean Taylor, Walker Chafee, Jake Bailey, Pat Foster, Steve Pontrello and Chad Tutton all scoring once. Will Campbell, Carson Clough, Marcus Holman and Ryan Creighton each had single assists.
Midfielder Joe Costigan, close defenseman Jake Bailey and long-stick defensive midfielder Matt Shannon all had their first goals in Tar Heel uniforms while Carson Clough had his first career assist. Patrick Kelly had the first multi-goal game of his UNC career.
Dan Lomas and Mitchell Dupere each scored two goals to lead the Panthers. Brad James notched a goal and three assists for the Panthers.
Two landmark goals came in the opening period for the Tar Heels as they jumped out to a 6-0 lead just 12:19 into the match. When Jimmy Bitter scored with 9:07 to play in the first quarter he became 51st Tar Heel in history to score 50 career goals, joining fellow sophomore attackman Joey Sankey in reaching that plateau this year. At the four-minute mark, Marcus Holman scored an unassisted goal for the Tar Heels to put UNC up 4-0. Holman's goal extended his consecutive games streak with a goal to 28 in a row, breaking the school record of 27 games set by Mac Ford from May 21, 1983 through May 19, 1985. Holman's 28-game goal scoring streak began against Detroit on February 18, 2012.
Carolina's win was the 10th of the season for Carolina and its seventh in a row. The Tar Heels have not lost since falling 11-8 to Duke on March 13 at Fetzer Field. The Tar Heels have now won 10 or more games in each of the first five seasons of Coach Joe Breschi's head coaching tenure. He is the first UNC head coach to accomplish that feat in program history. The last time UNC won 10 or more games in a season as many as five years in a row was six successive campaigns from 1989-94, the first two of those seasons under Coach Willie Scroggs and the next four under Coach Dave Klarmann.
UNC outshot the Panthers 43-18 and had a 46-32 edge in ground balls. UNC won 19 of 31 face-offs with Frankie Kelly going 10 for 17 at the X while leading the team with six ground balls. R.G. Keenan was a perfect 9-for-9 at the X to go along with five ground balls before giving way to Kelly in the second quarter. Thirty-five Tar Heels played in the game with 21 of them recording ground balls. Jake Matthai had four ground balls while Evan Connell, Kieran Burke and Mark McNeill had three each. Kieran McDonald led UNC with three caused turnovers.
Both teams shot the ball on goal with accuracy with 28 combined goals in the game and only 17 saves (12 for High Point, 5 for UNC). The fast pace of play led to a plethora of turnovers with the Panthers committing 22 and the Tar Heels 16. UNC was excellent in the clearing game, however, going 23 for 23, while High Point was 18 of 23. The Panthers went 1-for-1 on the EMO while Carolina was 2-for-2.
After leading 6-1 after the opening period, UNC outscored the Panthers 7-0 in the second period with seven different players scoring goals.
Pat Foster opened the scoring for Carolina with 10:30 left in the first quarter before Bitter scored on a fast break off an assist by Ryan Creighton with 9:07 left in the period. Chad Tutton, Marcus Holman, Joey Sankey and Ryan Creighton followed with goals over a span of 2:19 to put the Heels up 6-0 with 2:41 left in the opening frame. High Point closed out the scoring in the initial period with a man-up goal by Dan Lomas with 29 seconds remaining but the Panthers would not score for another 17:40 of the game.
The second quarter was all UNC with Sankey, Bitter and Pontrello scoring unassisted goals before Walker Chafee took a pass from Will Campbell and to stretch the lead to 10-1 with 8:50 left before the half. Holman and Patrick Kelly scored before Matt Shannon capitalized on a turnover by the Panthers to score his first career goal with 1:31 left in the first half.
The Tar Heels opened the second half with three goals in the opening 1:18. T.J. Kemp started the scoring in the half at 14:28 and just seven seconds later Jake Bailey tallied the opening goal of his career. It took just another 39 seconds before Kelly garnered his second goal of the game.
High Point dominated the remainder of the period, running off six successive goals to cut UNC's lead to 16-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Mitchell Dupere scored twice in the six-goal run for the Panthers and Brad James had a pair of assists.
Carolina then outscored the Panthers 4-1 in the final frame with Joe Costigan netting a pair of tallies. Both of Costigan's goals were on man-up plays. He was assisted by freshman Carson Clough at 12:20 and then by senior Stephen Burns at 8:36. A pair of seniors, Sean Taylor and Stephen Burns, combined on a goal 55 seconds later before Will Campbell finished off the scoring for UNC with 6:45 to play.
The 20 goals marked only the third time in the last 12 seasons that Carolina has scored 20 or more goals in a game. The other two occasions were against Denver on February 14, 2009 (20-7 UNC win) and against Mercer on February 12, 2012 (20-7 UNC victory).
UNC returns to action next Friday when it plays host to the 2013 ACC Tournament at Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels will be hosting the tournament for the first time since 2009 and will be seeking their first tournament title since 1996. Fourth-ranked Maryland plays Virginia at 5 p.m. in the opening semifinal game Friday while fifth-ranked Carolina takes on seventh-ranked Duke at 7:30 p.m. in the second semifinal game. The championship game is Sunday, April 28 at 1 p.m.