Mercer vs. North Carolina
February 12, 2012
The Game Story:

MACON, Ga. – The Mercer men's lacrosse team again showed signs of progress in a 20-7 loss to preseason No. 6 North Carolina on Sunday from the Lovett School in Atlanta.

The Bears (0-2) played the neutral site game as North Carolina (2-0) made a quick tour of Georgia, first defeating Penn St. yesterday in Kennesaw. With MU's quick turnaround from Saturday's tough loss to Ohio St., both teams had to overcome playing two games in two days.

The Bears executed well at times on Sunday and in facing the highest ranked team in the program's two-year existence, stood toe-to-toe against the Tar Heels.

Highlighting Sunday's game was sophomore transfer Zack Ward. Ward has helped facilitate the Bears attack thus far after transferring to Mercer from D-III Salisbury University. He has good handling skills and finished the game tied for a team-high two goals and added an assist.

Ward got the Bears out to a quick start for the second day in a row when he scored his second goal of the season just four minutes in to tie the score at one. However, the Tar Heels would respond for good just four second later.

UNC's R.G. Keenan won the ensuing faceoff, split the Bears defense and beat MU's starting keeper Dillon Volk to retake the lead for Carolina. The Tar Heels then rattled off six unanswered goals taking a 7-1 first quarter lead. UNC would not relinquish the advantage and finished the first quarter with 22 shots to just five from the Bears.

Mercer head coach Jason Childs was able to settle his team down in the second as the Bears scored three times while limiting UNC to just four of their own.

Back-to-back goals from sophomore Cole Branch made the score 9-3 with just over six to play in the first half. Branch added two assists and picked up three ground balls to lead the Mercer attack.

MU's Harry Baker scored the first goal of his career with 1:29 to play in the second to draw the UNC lead to 10-4. A late UNC goal however pushed the halftime lead back to 11-4.

Sophomore attackman Keoni Rausch scored his second of the year when he ripped a shot that found the back of the net just 37 seconds into the second half cutting the lead to 11-5. North Carolina however, flexed their muscle again and scored eight unanswered to end the third quarter.

Eoin Collins scored his first of the season off an assist from Timmy Geran to start the fourth, making the score 19-6. Ward added his second of the game on a man-up advantage with 21 seconds to play rounding out the final score, 20-7.

The Bears have a less than a week to prepare for their next game, a home match against Bellarmine set for next Saturday at 1 p.m