North Carolina vs. Denver
February 14, 2009
The Game Story:
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Fifth-ranked North Carolina dominated the ground ball battle and scored on exactly half of its shot attempts as the Tar Heel men's lacrosse team defeated 14th-ranked Denver 20-7 Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 1,243 at Fetzer Field on a sunny day with temperatures in the 60s. Four different Tar Heels had at least three goals and Gavin Petracca and Billy Bitter each had career highs for points in a game as North Carolina scored its most goals in a game since April 26, 2001.

It was a game of runs as North Carolina jumped out to a 6-0 lead with just 10 minutes and five seconds elapsed in the match only to see the resilient Pioneers score five straight goals over a span of only 7:34 to close their deficit to 6-5 with 11:03 left in the first half. The half ended with the Tar Heels ahead 8-6.

Carolina then came out in the second half and ran off 12 straight goals, five in the third quarter and then seven more in the fourth period with Matthias McCall scoring UNC's 20th goal with 4:05 to play on a behind-the-back shot off an assist by Joe Howard. The Pioneers finished the scoring with an unassisted goal by Charley Dickenson with 3:07 left in the match, ending a scoring drought of 32:27 for the UD side.

Junior Gavin Petracca and sophomore Billy Bitter both had big games for the Tar Heels for the second straight Saturday after they had five and six points, respectively in UNC's 16-4 win over Robert Morris a week ago. Against the Pioneers, both Petracca and Bitter recorded career highs for points in a game and for assists in a game. Petracca had four goals and four assists while Bitter had three goals and four assists.

Senior attackman Bart Wagner added three goals and an assist as the Tar Heel starting attack combined for 10 goals and nine assists. Senior midfielder Ben Hunt had three goals while junior midfielders Sean Delaney and Cryder DiPietro each added two goals. Redshirt sophomore Michael Burns scored the first goal of his career and freshman midfielder Jimmy Dunster also had his first career point, assisting on a Petracca goal in the third quarter.

Denver was led by senior midfielder Joey Murray who had three goals and an assistas he figured in on four of UD's seven goals. Freshman attackman Mark Matthews had a goal and an assist for the Pioneers.

UNC's defense forced 15 turnovers and limited the explosive Pioneers, who averaged 10.96 goals a game a year ago, to just 21 shots in the game. The Pioneers had only one shot in the third quarter when UNC outscored UD 5-0 to break the game open and take a 13-6 lead after three periods. Jamie Lincoln, Denver's leading scorer a year ago with 48 goals and four assists, was limited to just two shots and one assist by the Tar Heel defense.

The biggest difference in the game came in shooting accuracy as the Tar Heels scored 20 goals on 40 shots, 31 of which were on frame. Last Saturday, UNC had taken 63 shots against Robert Morris but scored only 16 times and had only 35 of the 63 shots on goal.

UNC also dominated the ground ball battle, keeping possession on its end through most of the day and capitalizing on multiple fast break and unsettled opportunities. The Tar Heels had a 47-19 edge in ground balls as 20 Tar Heels had at least one each. Freshman defenseman Charlie McComas, freshman midfielder Tyler Morton and sophomore midfielder Chris Hunt led the Carolina contingent with five ground balls apiece. McComas also led UNC in caused turnovers with three while Ryan Flanagan and Tyler Morton each had two.

The 20 goals were the most scored by UNC since a 27-7 win over Pfeiffer on April 27, 2001 at Henry Stadium. It was the most goals scored by UNC against an NCAA Division I opponent since April 16, 1997 when UNC won at VMI by a 22-2 score.

Carolina will host two games at Fetzer Field next weekend, meeting ninth-ranked Navy Friday at 7:30 p.m. and 18th-ranked Colgate Sunday at 1 p.m. The Pioneers will next be in action against No. 13 Albany a week from today in Albany, N.Y.