Tar Heels Open Strong With 15-2 Win

Tar Heels Open Strong With 15-2 Win

Tar Heels Open Strong With 15-2 Win

Tar Heels Open Strong With 15-2 Win

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The No. 10 North Carolina men's lacrosse team opened its 2008 campaign Saturday by holding Bellarmine scoreless for the last 48:26 of the game en route to a 15-2 victory at sun-drenched Fetzer Field. Five different Tar Heels scored two goals apiece and Carolina rallied with 14 successive goals in the last 39:43 of the match to record an easy win.

The 13-goal victory margin was the largest for Carolina since April 26, 2001 in head coach John Haus' first year at UNC. The Tar Heels defeated Pfeiffer 27-7 that day at Francis Henry Stadium. It is the largest victory margin for UNC over an NCAA Division I opponent since March 13, 1999 when the Tar Heels defeated Air Force 18-5 at the Denver Pioneer Classic in Denver, Colo.

Carolina fell behind 2-1 at the end of the first quarter, but the Tar Heel defense then tightened up and allowed the Knights only 11 shots and 17 ground balls in the final three quarters. UNC also forced 15 turnovers and 10 failed clears in the final 45 minutes of play.

Sophomore midfielder Sean Delaney led the Tar Heels with two goals and two assists for four points while junior attackman Michael B. Burns had a three-point day with two goals and an assist. Both junior attackman Bart Wagner and sophomore attackman Gavin Petracca had a goal and two assists, while freshman Billy Bitter added a goal and an assist. Sophomore attackman Kevin Federico, sophomore midfielder Cryder DiPietro and senior midfielder Rob Driscoll each scored two goals for Carolina.

UNC outshot the Knights 51-17, including 35-5 in the middle two periods of action. The Tar Heels had a 55-24 edge in ground balls with 15 of UNC's coming in the second quarter and 22 in the third quarter. Four different Bellarmine goalkeepers combined for 16 saves while allowing 15 goals on 51 Tar Heel shots. Grant Zimmerman played the first 46:29 of the game for UNC and had six saves while allowing two first-quarter goals. Zimmerman also snared five ground balls. Chris Madalon played the final 13:31 in goal for the Heels and made three saves.

Junior athlete Shane Walterhoefer was brilliant in the faceoff circle, winning two-thirds of his draws. He was 12 of 18 overall and had a game-high 11 ground balls. Freshman Michael J. Burns won both of his faceoff attempts for the Heels.

The one concern in the Tar Heel game was the 18 turnovers the Tar Heels committed, including six in the opening period when the Heels fell behind 2-1. Bellarmine had 19 turnovers.

Carolina opened the scoring with 10 minutes left in the first quarter on a goal by midfielder Bobby McAuley. Michael B. Burns sent a pass from behind the goal cross field to the right of the box where McAuley's hard over handed shot found the back of the goal.

Bellarmine seized the lead with a pair of tightly spaced goals later in the quarter. Defenseman Jon Esposito intercepted a UNC clearing pass and motored down the middle of the field untouched to score at 4:45 of the opening period. After a slashing penalty on Bart Wagner at 3:47 of the quarter, Bellarmine scored on the extra-man situation just seconds later with Adam Gardner taking a pass from John Kirk on the right of the crease and scored on the doorstep.

Carolina finally got its offense going in the second period, scoring six goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half to build a 7-2 lead. Sophomore midfielder Cryder DiPietro tied the score at 2-2 with 9:43 left in the half on an extra-man goal. DiPietro took a pass from Bart Wagner on the right side of the box and cranked a rocket into the upper left of the goal while being closely defended. The goal seemed to jump start the Heels' offensive thrust.

Fifty-eight seconds later North Carolina took the lead for good as Wagner took a pass from senior midfielder Nick Tintle and sent an outside shot from the left wing hard and low and into the goal. The Heels made it 4-2 with 6:22 left in the first half on Sean Delaney's first goal of the game, an unassisted tally that was aided by a textbook pick from Bobby McAuley at the top of the box.

UNC then broke the game open by rattling off three goals in a span of 1:47 later in the period. At 4:07, senior midfielder Rob Driscoll snared a ground ball off a deflected shot and fired the ball while falling to the ground, sending a hard shot into the lower left of the frame. Fifty-eight seconds passed before Michael B. Burns took a pass from Delaney and delivered a bounce shot that found its way across the line for a 6-2 lead. UNC finished off the scoring for the half at 2:20 with Delaney feeding sophomore attackman Gavin Petracca on the crease for a dunk shot.

Carolina quickly extended the lead to 9-2 in the opening minutes of the second half. Driscoll scored his second goal after taking a feed from behind the goal by Petracca and scoring unguarded from eight yards out. That goal came just 46 seconds into the second half. At 11:22, the Heels made its 9-2 on Kevin Federico's first goal of the contest. Federico scooped up a ground ball and while being flattened to the turf scored past goalkeeper David Haas.

After a cross checking penalty on the Knights' Geoff Griffiths at 11:22, UNC appeared to go up 10-2 on an extra-man goal by DiPietro at the 10:37 mark. DiPietro's goal was wiped off the board, however, and he was assessed a three-minute unreleasable penalty for playing with an illegal stick.

Carolina killed off the penalty without any damage and went on to score four more goals in the third quarter. At 6:54, Michael B. Burns rolled the crease to make it 10-2. At 4:52, Sean Delaney took a feed from Petracca to score on an open shot from 10 yards away. The Heels made it 12-2 as DiPietro scored on a dodge with a hard, low shot. The Heels made it 13-2 with 40 seconds left in the quarter as Bart Wagner grabbed a loose ball in the air and passed cross field to Kevin Federico who scored from 12 yards out.

Freshman Billy Bitter had a hand in the final two UNC goals. The freshman attackman from Stowe, Vt. rolled the crease at 13:31 to score and make it 14-2. Bitter then fed sophomore midfielder Joe Howard on the fast break for a goal with 4:16 to play. In the fourth quarter, Bitter and Howard both notched the first goals of their UN careers.

Carolina has seven days off before playing at the University of Denver next Saturday afternoon. The No. 20 Pioneers opened their season with a win over Colgate Saturday.

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Good win, Tarheels!
    by (#136419) on 2/16/08 @11:02PM
Although this game didn't proove a whole lot, it was a chance for several players on the team to get some action. Carolina was definitely ready to get started. With 9 of 10 starters back from last year's Quarterfinal team, they are hungry to go at least one step further.
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    by (#139861) on 2/17/08 @12:00AM
This was a statement for a UNC team that I think can really go far this year. They beat a team they should have by an amount they should have. The ACC is by far the toughest conference in all of lax, and I can see UNC snagging a couple of wins in it this year.
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