North Carolina vs. Navy
March 2, 2002
The Game Story:
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.** In the longest game in North Carolina menĘs lacrosse history and possibly the longest game in college lacrosse history the #13 Tar Heels defeated #14 Navy 11-10 in six overtimes at rain-soaked Fetzer Field Saturday afternoon on a spectacular empty-net goal by senior midfielder Pat Jackson after 83 minutes and 39 seconds of play. The win improved UNC to 3-0 on the season while Navy dropped to 2-1.

The game had enough subplots of drama to fill a novel. The result marked the third successive year that UNC has beaten the Naval Academy in menĘs lacrosse by an 11-10 score. Carolina beat Navy in Chapel Hill on a Jeff Sonke goal in the first overtime in 2000. In 2001, Sonke scored with one second remaining in the game to lift the Tar Heels to an 11-10 win over the Midshipmen in Annapolis. And on Saturday it was Jackson who took on hero status for UNC with 21 seconds to play in the sixth four-minute overtime period. JacksonĘs goal came after the Tar Heels had gone 40:51 without a score.

Carolina had built its largest lead of the game at 10-7 when junior attackman Steven Will scored with 2:12 to play in the third period. But Navy staged a furious rally in the fourth quarter and scored two extra-man goals in the last three minutes to force overtime. Dave Pittard had scored his third goal of the game for Navy with extacly three minutes to play to pull the Midshipmen within 10-9. Then with 13 seconds left Carolina defenseman Matt Pessagno was penalized for tripping and eight seconds later NavyĘs Eddie McKinnon picked up a ground ball on the edge of the crease and he finished the play for the 10-10 tie.

Both teams had numerous possessions in overtime and each team had an extra-man opportunity in the third overtime period. Carolina had been outshot in the game prior to overtime but the Tar Heels launched numerous shots on goal in the six extra periods only to be denied again and again by Navy goalkeeper Jon Higdon who had 11 of his 19 saves in the six overtime periods. But after his final save of the game Higdon came out his goal to lead the Navy clear attempt. His pass from about 15 yards outside of the goal however was intercepted cleanly by Jackson who jumped like a free safety and snared the ball with one hand. He brought the ball down and seeing the empty net ahead of him whipped the ball from 40 yards out on the left side perfectly into the middle of the goal to end the drama.

It was clearly a great game from the start for two evenly-matched teams. Navy led 2-1 at the end of the first quarter as Pittard and McKinnon sandwiched goals around Steven WillĘs first goal. After freshman midfielder Bryant Will and Jackson gave UNC its first lead at 3-2 less than three minutes into the second quarter the Midshipmen responded with goals by Eddy Holton, Ben Bailey and Pittard to forge a 5-3 lead with 7:05 left in the first half. Carolina responded with a run of its own by scoring three goals in only 59 seconds to retake the lead at 6-5 with 2:59 left before intermission. Senior attackman Andy Jonas had UNCĘs only extra-man goal of the game to kick off the run and freshman attackman Jed Prossner and senior midfielder Tim Gosier followed with goals in quick order. Navy would knot things up again before halftime as Pittard fed McKinnon with 2:20 left in the period for the 6-6 deadlock.

The Tar Heels came out and dominated the third quarter by outscoring the Middies 4-1. Bryant Will gave the Tar Heels the lead 7-6 off junior midfielder Austin GarrisonĘs third assist of the game and Gosier followed a little over four minutes later to make it 8-6. Greg Conklin responded for the Naval Academy with the first of the MidshipmenĘs extra-man goals with 5:44 left in the third quarter. But sophomore attackman Andrew Lucas and Steven Will scored later in the quarter to give the Tar Heels a 10-7 lead with 15 minutes left. But Navy would not go away and Joe BossiĘs goal with 10:34 left in the fourth quarter off McKinnonĘs assist cut the lead to 10-8 and set up the aforementioned scenario that led to all the excitement and heroics down the stretch.

UNC goalkeeper Paul Spellman responded in overtime by making four of his nine saves on the game in the extra periods, two each in the fourth and fifth overtimes. Carolina outshot Navy 42-37 and won 15 faceoffs to 14 for the Middies. Navy won the ground ball battle 45-37. Carolina will host Delaware next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fetzer Field while Navy will return home to Annapolis to play Massachusetts next Saturday at 1p.m.