Intense sunlight, unseasonably warm weather, and 3,866 fans greeted the University of North Carolina men's lacrosse team as they stepped on the field this afternoon to take on Cornell University. Just a week earlier and a mile higher, the Tarheels barely managed to squeeze past Denver University in a too-close-for-comfort 6-5 victory. But today, at home and at sea level, Carolina erased any lingering doubt about the validity of their prominent pre-season ranking as they mercilessly trounced a talented Big Red team and grew to 3-0 on the season.
The Tarheel onslaught began a mere three minutes in, as Michael B. Burns curled around the crease and shot past Cornell goalie Jake Myers' legs. 57 seconds later, Carolina would get it's second of the day off an unassisted Cryder DiPietro goal. Cornell would strike back at 8:29, as Kyle Doctor capitalized on an unsettled situation, feeding Chris Finn to put the Big Red on the scoreboard. Their joy was short lived, however, as Carolina retaliated with three straight goals in less than three minutes, beginning with a Gavin Petracca time-and-room shot unleashed from above the restraining line off a feed from Bart Wagner at 6:44. Wagner would get his own goal 49 seconds later, getting open on the crease, snagging a pass from sophomore midfielder Sean Burke and beating Myers for UNC's fourth goal of the day. A mere 32 seconds later, Kevin Federico found Rob Driscoll, increasing the Carolina lead to four. As the first quarter ended, the Tarheels controlled the game, 5-1.
The first quarter ended with laundry on the field for a Cornell slash, and it only took UNC 31 seconds to capitalize on the 2nd quarter Extra Man Opportunity, as Honorable Mention All-American Nick Tintle handed Attackman Billy Bitter his first of the day. It would take less than a minute for Cornell to respond; as the clock hit 13:42, Chris Finn planted his feet and ripped a shot over Carolina goalie Grant Zimmerman's shoulder. Three minutes later, 2007 Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Max Siebald would grab his only point of the day, beating Zimmerman with a forceful shot from up top. Cornell, briefly energized, went on to score a third straight goal; Ryan Hurley attempted to redirect a John Glynn pass across the crease, but his pass was accidentally deflected into the goal by a Carolina defenseman. With only 45 seconds remaining in the half, Nick Tintle fed Bart Wagoner for an extra-man goal, carrying a 7-4 Carolina advantage into the locker room.
As the second half of play began, John Glynn made his presence known immediately after an illegal procedure call on UNC, taking advantage of the new face-off rule by charging downfield and planting an on-the-run shot stick-side high a mere 5 seconds into the half. It would take until the 11:10 mark for the Tarheels to get back on the board, but they did so stylishly, with Driscoll finding the twine off a Chris Hunt assist. Carolina capitalized again on another EMO, as junior midfielder Ben Hunt accepted a Kevin Federico pass and winged the ball at the cage. The shot struck Jake Myers' chest protector, but still managed to trickle into the net. With six minutes remaining in the quarter, Cornell mustered another assault. Mike Corbolotti, drawing the defense across the crease, made a brilliant pass through traffic, finding John Hurley alone on Carolina's backdoor for an easy quick-stick finish. In response, Billy Bitter picked up his second goal at 3:07 in a dazzling display of agility, nearly breaking the ankles of his defenseman before backing in from X and putting a low-angle shot past Myers. The third quarter ended with the Tarheels maintaining a dominant four point lead, 10-6.
Michael B. Burns would open the fourth-quarter scoring at 12:34 with the help of Gavin Petracca, who set him up for a decent shot that was initially saved by Jake Myers, only to have the rebound roll across the goal line. Billy Bitter would go on and secure a Hat Trick, charging from the back of the cage and scoring in tight. At 7:49, John Glynn bulled his way through traffic, drew a slash, and still managed to put the ball in the back of the net. With just over three minutes to play in the game, Cornell put goalie Matt Martinez on a field player in an attempt to force the double team, but this strategy failed, ending with Bart Wagner handing Michael B. Burns an easy goal on an open net, marking Burns' third tally of the game. With less than a minute left on the clock, Cornell got a Man-Up opportunity. With 23 ticks left on the clock, the Tarheels were a little over-zealous in their defense, leading to two additional flags being thrown. This gave Cornell a brief 3-man advantage which Kyle Doctor, assisted by John Glynn, easily capitalized on with the clock at eleven seconds.
This game was an impressive victory for North Carolina, who showed great poise all over the field. The Carolina Attack unit was responsible for nine goals and five assists in today's match, while the midfield handled the rest of the Tarheel points. Meanwhile, Carolina's defense, led by All- American Tim Kaiser was brutally effective in locking down Cornell's offense. In goal for the Tarheels, Grant Zimmerman was a wall, making 15 stops and creating offense through his athletic clearing ability. Cornell out-shot UNC in this match-up 51-34, but stalwart defense and goalkeeping kept them on top of this top-ten competition.
North Carolina will attempt to continue their winning streak next Saturday, as they battle Notre Dame at home in Chapel Hill. Cornell will try and bounce back from today's disappointing loss that same day as they take on Army in Ithaca.
|Bart Wagner||(2, 2)|
|Michael B Burns||(3, 0)|
|Billy Bitter||(3, 0)|
|Kevin Federico||(0, 2)|
|Gavin Petracca||(1, 1)|
|Ben Hunt||(1, 1)|
|Rob Driscoll||(2, 0)|
|Nick Tintle||(0, 2)|
|Sean Burke||(0, 1)|
|Cryder Dipietro||(1, 0)|
|Grant Zimmerman||15 (0.652)|